Submitted to: Hoard's Dairyman
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 25, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Packing a pile or bunker silo is an essential management step. Good packing achieves high silage density which excludes air prior to fermentation during the storage period and at the feedout face during unloading. Previous studies had identified tractor weight and packing time per ton as important factors, but not all potentially important factors were investigated. In this study, 168 bunker silos on commercial farms were surveyed for density and packing practices. Factors found important in the survey were packing tractor weight, how thinly the crop was spread in the silo, packing time per ton as fed, and silage height. An Excel spreadsheet was developed to allow farmers to look at ways of improving silage density and is available over the Internet at http://www.uwex.edu/ces/crops/uwforage/storage.htm. The results of the survey indicate the potential problems farmers may have in packing silos adequately as harvesting rate is increased through bigger equipment or changing to custom harvesting. This leads to reduced packing times unless the number of packing tractors is increased. Reduced density from faster harvesting can also be offset by spreading each load coming into the silo over a wider area and/or by adding extra weights to packing tractors within the manufacturers' limits for the particular tractor models.