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How to wilt grass rapidly in order to minimise nutrient losses in the field once it has been cut for silage?

That is a key question being addressed by Volac at this year’s Grassland and Muck Event (Ragley Estate, Warwickshire, 20-21 May, 2020).

According to Peter Smith, Ecosyl silage specialist for Volac, wilting grass to a target 28-32% dry matter (DM) content is important for multiple reasons – including to concentrate sugars, to aid fermentation and silage DM intakes, and to minimise effluent.

However, many crops are still not wilted down to this %DM fast enough, he says. This is important because, once grass is mown, key nutrients are being broken down until the grass is fermented down to a stable pH, he explains. So the speed of the operation is critical to the final nutritional and financial value of the crop, he notes.

Accordingly, Volac will be demonstrating techniques to wilt grass to 28-32% DM as rapidly as possible – based on machinery use and time of day of cutting. This follows historic findings showing it is possible to wilt down to nearly 30% DM in eight hours.

Mr Smith says: “With many farmers often struggling to reach optimum DMs within the maximum target of 24 hours, we hope to demonstrate best practice for a rapid wilt. The faster the operation, the closer the silage will be, in terms of quality, to the grass that was initially mown.”