This year, standing straw prices in the UK could be 15-20% higher than last year – with yields expected to be extremely variable because of the challenging weather.
Getting the basics right for hay and silage making will boost your farm’s productivity and efficiency which helps your bottom line.
fieldmargin makes communication between the field and the office easier because all your data is stored in one place.
Record hay, silage or straw yield with Field Jobs
No need to wait until you get back to the office to record your harvest numbers. Ensure accuracy by recording them and sharing them with your team as they happen, right in the field. For example if you are baling hay:
- Select Harvesting as the job type on your field job
- Select the fields to be harvested
- Add an output called “Hay bales” and set the unit as count (you can also set the unit to weight such as tonnes if you prefer)
- Add your yield as bales per field. Your yield in bales/ha will automatically be calculated.
- Use reports to check total yields and variation across fields
Record what is going on with photographs
Grass grown for silage has different needs to grass grown solely for grazing. Silage provides high quality forage for winter feeding however, as with all crops, it depends on using the right varieties of grass and optimising soil conditions. Keeping accurate farm notes can really help productivity.
Cutting date has a significant impact on silage yield and quality. As the crop starts to bulk up and yield increases, quality declines as the grass begins to produce stems and heads. These are less digestible than leafy growth.
Keeping track of growth stages is important for optimising your harvest date. Grasses are classified according to heading date. This is the date on which 50 per cent of the ears in fertile tillers have emerged. Grass varieties have different heading dates, which are triggered by different temperatures, e.g. early heading grasses can start to grow at lower temperatures, earlier in spring. You can add photographs to notes on fieldmargin to track and share this information.
Choose a silage mixture that contains grasses with similar heading dates for the most efficient harvest. The stage of growth at which the crop is cut will have more influence on the eventual feeding value of the silage than any other factor other than weather, which is out of your control (source).
Watch our video tutorial about how to make a note here.
Check the weather!
Be weather wise! Listen closely to the extended weather outlook and the daily hay cutting advisory in addition to the forecast. On fieldmargin, the weather forecast and reporting are provided through Dark Sky. This is easily accessed by clicking on the weather symbol in the top right corner of the map on the web app.
Even a slight amount of rain on curing hay can cause serious losses of feed quality. The losses occur because much of the nutrition in the plant is water soluble and can be removed by leaching.
Try to cut your hay just after a cold front passes in order to have the longest period of dry weather for the crop to cure. Put the hay into a porous, fluffy windrow so the air can move through it easily.
Some basic indications of silage quality can be carried out on farm. You can estimate Dry Matter (DM) of conserved forages by squeezing a handful of silage in a ball. The amount of juice and how the ball holds its shape will give you an indication of DM levels. You can find more instruction on how to use this method in this AHDB guide.
Detailed silage analyses can be carried out by independent laboratories or feed companies. You can upload any file results to a note on fieldmargin so that they can easily be referred to.
Want more information? Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.