In some parts of Missouri and across the Midwest, drought conditions are starting to appear and could last for an extended period of time. Many seed suppliers are running short or have run out of sorgum sudan and pearl millet seed because producers used large parts of their hay reserve from last year and hay crops this year have been about 50%. This sends people looking for an alternative forage crop for livestock.
( via NIDIS, 10 June 2018. Pictured above)
We’ve had producers calling us over the past few weeks inquiring about baling and wrapping corn silage, and the process of it. So we are going to break it down into tangible steps you can take to help yourself regarding drought damaged corn.
How does a drought affect corn?
Drought affects corn when the nitrates used to make the plant grow remain at the bottom of the stalk, which puts drought stressed corn at a higher risk for nitrate levels being high. “High nitrate levels are frequently found where high levels of nitrogen fertilizer were applied and where drought-damaged corn is chopped a few days after a rain. Other factors that contribute to high nitrate levels in corn silage are cloudy weather, extremely high plant populations and shortages of soil phosphorus and potassium." (Kallenbach, 2012.)
What can be done?
According to the University of Missouri Ag Extension, if corn has been damaged from drought, you should chop it to help with compression of plant material. This “should help in packing the silage to exclude as much oxygen as possible. Producers should also sharpen the knives on their equipment before making silage.” (Kallenback, 2012).
Chopping will make the next two points easier as well. Like mentioned above, by chopping-the bale you make will be tighter- which will have less oxygen and will make ensiling faster. It will also make mixing easier, since the bale will process better since it is already chopped and won’t have to be chopped again in the TMR mixer.
"Ensiling drought-damaged corn is preferred to greenchop because during the fermentation process, the nitrate content can be reduced by 20 to 50 percent.” (Kallenbach, 2012.)
How to ensile?
“Simply bale high moisture forage and then wrap the bales with plastic film to exclude oxygen.” (Kallenbach, 2012) It is recommended to apply 6-8 layers of plastic wrap.
How has it worked for others?
The University of Missouri mentions a test plot of corn silage in their article called “During Drought, consider baling corn silage.”
“In 2016, a Lawrence county dairyman baled a test plot of corn for silage in collaboration with University of Missouri - Extension, S&H Farm Supply, and Crown Power of Monett. Two balers used included newly available crop cutting technology, while the third baler was a standard baler. Corn was mowed with a roller mower. This method helped keep cobs intact on plants and not left in the field. This type of mower also allowed the corn to fall in rows to accommodate the baler without tedding or raking. Corn wilted in the field until it reached 75% moisture. Corn was baled, net wrapped then wrapped in white plastic. These bales then underwent fermentation until early October. ‘The fermentation profile was remarkably similar to typical corn silage,’ Said Bluel. At feedout, cows wasted little feed and milked well. The project demonstrated that baled corn is a viable feed solution.” (Bluel, 2018).
Even though letting the corn ensile will reduce nitrates by 20-50%, if it still tests at a risky level, your other option is to mix it with other stuffs in a TMR mixer. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln agrees that “add(ing) whole corn, dried distillers grains, or ground dry forage” will give you a better chance of feeding a high quality, lower nitrate ration with your corn silage. (Rasby, Anderson). The University of Missouri also recommends diluting “the silage in the ratio with other low nitrate feedstuffs.” (Kallenbach, 2012.) Feeding from a TMR mixer in general is a practice that allows you to manage exactly what your livestock is getting per serving, because its mixed in a homogenous mix that doesn’t allow them to pick through it, and it creates less waste.
For more information, see the articles listen in our references:
Bluel, Reagan. University of Missouri Extension. “During Drought, consider baling corn silage.” 6 July 2018. http://extension.missouri.edu/barry/documents/Baled%20Corn%20Silage.pdf
Kallenbach, Rob. University of Missouri. “Making silage from drought damaged corn.” 20 July 2012. https://ipm.missouri.edu/IPCM/2012/7/Making-Silage-from-Drought-Damaged-Corn/
NIDIS. National Integrated Drought Information System. U.S. Drought Portal. 10 June 2018. https://www.drought.gov/drought/regions
Rasby, Rick and Bruce Anderson. Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Options for Drought Damaged Corn Fields.” 10 June, 2018. https://beef.unl.edu/cattleproduction/droughtdamagedcornfields
Roth, Greg and Doug Beegle. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.
“High Nitrate Potential in Corn Silage” 10 June 2018. https://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/plant-analysis/at-harvest-corn-silage-nitrate-test/high-nitrate-potential-in-corn-silage
University of Illinois Extension. “Drought Stressed Corn as Livestock Feed: Frequently Asked Questions.” 6 August 2012. http://www.beefmagazine.com/disaster/drought-stressed-corn-livestock-feed-frequently-asked-questions
Wheaton, Howell and Fred Martz. University of Missouri Ag Extention. “Corn Silage” 10 June, 2018. https://extension2.missouri.edu/g4590
Wheat harvest has been running hard in mid Missouri for the past few weeks on our farm. First we were in a drought, then it rained like crazy for a few days. The price of wheat is down, so we decided to bag our wheat until the prices seem more reasonable. We’ve been bagging grain for about 10 years now, here are some things we are amazed by every year.
1. Bagging directly in the field saves a lot of time and money. We usually set up a bag at every field we are combining at, so its close for the combine or grain cart to just pull up and dump at. This saves time running back and forth to the grain bins, and it also saves fuel.
2. If it rains, just close the hopper. Some people ask if they have to cut the bag, stop, and close off the bag if it starts raining. Nope! Simply close the hopper on your grain bagger with the bag still on and you are good to go.
3. Our grain bagger is fast. Unloading our grain cart only takes a couple minutes each round, here’s some video below of us bagging.
4. We don’t have to use fans. The moisture we put in is what we will get out, no need for fans, which is nice.
5. It’s easy to probe a bag. If we want to check our bags we simply put bag tape over the spot we want to probe, put the probe in, then put some more bag tape over the hole.
6. We don’t worry about unloading. When we are ready to sell our wheat, we don’t worry about it. We have an unloader that is fast, easy to use, and can get into the field whether its snowing or dry.
Here are some frequently asked questions about our Plastar grain bags that we have received lately from customers who are interested in grain bagging or grain bagging for the first time.
What width and length grain bags do you have?
Our Plastar grain bags are 9 or 10 feet in width and range anywhere from 200 to 333 feet in length, depending on availability.
What thickness are the bags?
We offer plastar premium grain bags that are 9.3 mil in thickness . Our plastar grain bags have been tested by the state of Missouri.
Do you have trouble with pests?
No. We recommend not bagging grain where there is already a known pest problem. Placing ammonium nitrate down before bagging is a safeguard tool, never use sulfur. Unless there is a major grain spill or you have punctured a hole in your grain bag, pests will not be able to smell the grain from outside the grain bag.
What happens if I tear a hole in a bag?
We offer grain bag tape, as well as many dealerships, to patch a hole if one occurs, which is rare.
How many bushels will a bag hold?
9ft Plastar grain bags will hold approx..40 bushels per foot, 10ft plastar grain bags will hold approx. 50 bushels per foot. So for example, if you have a 10x250ft bag, you can estimate 250x50=12,500 bushels stored in one bag.
How much do bags cost?
Our Plastar grain bags cost roughly 0.7 cents a bushel.
Are the bags reusable?
The plastar grain bags are one time use.
Are the bags recyclable?
Yes. See our previous post on recycling options http://www.showmeshortlineblog.com/blog/recycling-ag-plastics
What moisture can I store my grain at in grain bags?
See chart above.
How long can I store my grain in grain bags?
Plastar grain bags are designed to store grain up to 24 months.
What happens to my grain inside the grain bags?
Not much. Aerobic bacteria use up what free oxygen is available inside the grain bag, they expel carbon dioxide which increases CO2 and decreases the risk for deterioration and it also controls mold and insects. There is no decrease in the grade of your grain inside the grain bag and it will remain like it was when you put it in.
1. Hay Fields
Aerate soil, lift matter stuck to the ground, knock down dead standing plants and spread chunks of hay left from previous year. Care must be taken to harrow your fields as early as possible in the season, so as to not lift plants already progressing.
2. On Pasture
Most of the same benefits as hay fields, plus spreading of droppings. If harrowing pasture more than once a year, the gentle side of the harrow should be used. Then pasture could be harrowed several times.
3. Spread Manure
Some of today's spreaders may leave large chunks on the field. The "Bridge" harrow will break lumps and spread manure, making much better use of manure, and it doesn't plug.
Homes, ponds, municipalities, golf courses, etc. Saves a lot of work raking and shoveling, as harrow smooths and levels. Works well along with other leveling equipment.
5. Horse Training
Tracks Loosen packed surface, including packed snow and ice. Works well with other leveling equipment.
6. Preparing Seed Bed
7. Trails and Yards
Loosen packed surfaces.
8. Baseball Fields
Uses After Other Equipment:
(harrow may be hitched directly behind other machinery as well as pulled independently)
Break lumps and pulverizes soil as you prepare your seed bed.
Level ridges and spread any remaining residue.
11. Seed Drill
Level and cover seed.
12. Aerating Equipment (Subsoiler, minimum till drill, no till drill)
Level ridges, breakup and spread any lumps remaining and spread residue which is often present after the use of these machines. (maybridgeharrows.com)
Hearing from customers about how our products made their farming operation easier and more efficient is what keeps us going! So we thought it might be fun to show you a selection of videos from our customers talking about their farms and their machines so you can see it all in one place.
Our first customer below is Brandt Willer of Willer & Ekern Farms in Mexico, MO. Brandt farms a 200 acre farm as well as runs a beef cattle operation. They feed their cattle fescue hay, corn silage that was 160 bushel corn, wet distillers grain from the local ethanol plant and quality liquid feed (2 ½ lbs per head per day). They mix all that into their Jaylor mixer, and the mixer creates a consistent ration for their cattle. Brandt says that he loves the mixer “because you get to run it on lower rpms, its consistent and the cattle cant pick through it.” When Jaylor shot this video, the farm had recently upgraded from a Jaylor 4575 mixer to a 5425 mixer. Listen to their full story below!
Our next customer is Jeremy Jelinek, Grasslands Consultants in Monnett, MO. He purchased a Mchale Fusion baler/wrapper several years back and has run 55,000+ bales through it- and its still going strong! S&H Farm Supply shot this video as well as one with Dalton McElwain of McElwain Farms in Butler, MO who purchased a McHale Fusion Vario and likes the knives and the time it saves being able to both bale and wrap his silage bales at the same time. Watch both of their videos below!
This next video is from Paul Meduna, with Meduna family farms in Colon, NE. They run a custom calving/cow operation with about 750 cows. He has a Teagle 8500 bale processor. They really like their machine for bedding their barns, and the shooting distance he can get with it. Meduna Family Farms also has a Mchale V660 baler, and Chris Meduna talked about that machine below as well. They use their Mchale for their custom baling operation where they bale hay and ruffage/ corn stalks. He loves the ruggedness of the machine, the reliability, consistency and density of the bales. Watch both of their stories below!
This last video is a fun one, we have a great service department and had landed our plane in a customers field to help him with his machine, and as we were flying away the customer took a video and sent it to us, love it!
We already know grain bagging is a great way to gain extra storage and increase profits by storing grain until prices are right, but is grain bagging a sustainable farming practice? Here we will look at 3 ways that grain bagging is in fact, sustainable.
1. Fuel. Grain bagging will reduce the amount of fuel you use during harvest- there is no back and forth to the grain bin, you can unload right into the bagger in the field and create an infield grain terminal for yourself.
2. Electricity. You will use less electricity if you bag grain because you will not have to use fans on your grain. The moisture level of the grain you put into the bag will be what you get out, not much happens to your grain inside the grain bag because the aerobic bacteria uses up what free oxygen is available inside the grain bag, and they expel carbon dioxide which increases CO2 and decreases the risk for deterioration which controls mold and insects.
3. Recycling. Grain bags are recyclable and there are several companies across the US and Canada that specifically recycle farm silage plastic and grain bags. Just a few of them are:
Revolution Plastics & EcoGenX
Other uses for recycled grain bags on your farm you can do yourself are: cover machines, plastic over garden for weed control and under machines that leak oil.
Never seen a grain bagger run before? Check out the video below from our farm last year harvesting soybeans.
Hay season is in full swing, so whether you are a first-time wrapper or have been wrapping for years, keep reading for a list of things you can do to make sure you get the best possible silage from your wrapped hay.
1.Wrap dense, compacted bales. For the best results, you want to wrap tight bales so that the plastic wrap fully encompasses the bale with no room for air pockets. Using the right baler is key, as well as using a balewrapper that fully covers the bale in plastic.
2. Wrap hay between 45-60% moisture. If you wrap your hay between this range you will have good silage that will have good feed value for approx. 1 year. This moisture level is needed to achieve optimal fermentation. The ideal time to mow is during the vegetative stage (just before it is all headed for grass, and for legumes when you see about 10% flowers.) Some good tips on which bales to feed first goes like this:
Feed First: bales that were wrapped at greater than 60% moisture
Feed Second: bales that were wrapped at less than 40% moisture
Feed Last: bales that were wrapped between 40-60% moisture
3. Put at least 6 layers of wrap on your bales. We see a lot of people try to save money by using less layers of wrap, but you are really doing yourself a disservice if you do this. In warmer climates, even 8 layers of wrap are recommended.
Choosing the right silage film is also important: you should pick a film that
-will last one year
-provides excellent oxygen barrier that will keep the CO2 inside the bale
Below is an easy chart of how to count layers based on rotations of the wrapper.
4. Be mindful of where you place your bales. You should place your wrapped bales on a level surface, away from trash, in a well-drained area. You should wrap uphill whenever possible and plan to wrap within 4-8 hours of cutting. You can store individually wrapped bales on their ends where the plastic is thicker whenever possible.
5. Monitor your bales. Just like you check your crop in the field, checking your wrapped bales is no different. Checking your bales for puncture holes regularly will help- and if you do see a hole, use repair tape to patch the hole. Patch tape for wrapped bales should be easily available at your local dealerships.
Adam, Bernard. 2017. “The How and Why of High Moisture Hay.” Tubeline Mfg.
Rankin, Mike. 2016. “Make baleage, not failage.” Hay & Forage Grower.
You might have heard of grain bagging or seen the long white plastic bags filled with grain along some farms across the countryside. Have you wondered what exactly is grain bagging or flexible grain storage? Keep reading.
Globally, grain bagging has been a success for over 30 years and we have personally been bagging grain on our own farm in Missouri for over 10 years. The two questions we hear most from newcomers are: what is flexi-grain storage (grain bagging) and what happens inside the bag once grain is bagged?
1. Richiger Flexi-Grain Storage is an integrated method whereby different kinds of grains can be stored and handled on-farm or in any suitably located site in a simple, secure and economical way by containment in large airtight plastic bags, with no constraints on the tonnage that can be stocked in this way. A large bumper crop or simply more grain to be put in storage after a good harvest means more bags to be filled, an auspicious state of affairs and a task easily handled by sturdy and reliable grain baggers in either 9 or 10ft wide forms. The system comes full circle when the formerly complicated and work-intensive job of transferring grain contained in the bags to truck or wagon is done swiftly and effortlessly with grain bag unloaders.
(Richiger, flexigrainstorage.com) (bagyourgrain.com)
Once your grain is stored, nothing happens to the quality of your grain and let me explain why. ( See diagram below) First, aerobic bacteria uses up free oxygen that is available in the bag, and the bacteria are expelling Carbon Dioxide, which increases C02. This decreases the risk of deterioration in your grain and also controls mold and insect infestation (animals cannot smell your grain from outside the bag, so unless you puncture a hole there is no need to worry about pests). There is no decrease in your grain grade due to shrink or oxygen degradation. So the quality of grain you put in your bag is what you will get out. The grain bags we sell (Plastar) are recommended for storage up to 24 months. All types of grain can be stored in our grain bags including soybeans, wheat, rice, corn. See the below video for a video of us bagging grain on our farm, and click the links below to learn even more about grain bagging!
If you are new to bale wrapping, considering bale wrapping, or have been wrapping and want to get an idea of how you are saving money, keep reading!
1. The first way you save money is your time=money. If takes approximately 9-12 minutes of time per bale depending on your swatch width to make silage/haylage as opposed to 22+ minutes of time per bale to make dry bales which includes mowing, tedding, raking, baling and moving bales. Whether you are paying for labor or doing it yourself, saving time means saving money.
2. The second way you save money by wrapping your hay is the fact that if you do not wrap your hay you will lose 1/3 of that bale. See the diagram below for a visual of how your dry hay loses value. The first 3” of the bale will be spoiled hay from being out in the weather and air getting to it (this is even if its stored in a barn). This equates to 1/3 of your bale being unusable because your cows won’t eat it and it’s of no nutritional value. By wrapping your hay, you are able to use the entire bale with better feed value for your livestock.
3. Piggybacking off the last point, it takes 25lbs of dry hay for cows to gain 1lb, whereas it only takes 8lbs of silage/haylage for a cow to gain that same 1lb. So you can save money by making your bales last longer if they are wrapped because not as much is needed in order for your livestock to gain weight.
4. You will save on fuel costs because, like mentioned in the first point, you will be spending less time overall with the whole wrapping process. This reduces your fuel costs, and is better for the environment.
5. Not only will you have better feed for your livestock, if you choose to sell your wrapped bales you will make a larger profit since the feed value is greater in wrapped bales. You can charge more for your bales because the customer will be getting a better product for their livestock.
There are many more reasons why bale wrapping is the most effective use of your hard work and best option for your livestock, so keep checking back for tips! Click on the link below for a useful guide to all things bale wrapping from Tubeline Manufacturing.
This article has been updated from a previous version.
Will you be bale wrapping for the first time this year? Wrapped hay before and just need a refresher course? Or simply interested in why wrapping hay is important? These are the most frequently asked questions we receive in regards to bale wrapping!
Why is silage better?
-baled silage is easier for cows to digest because the silage that comes from wrapped bales is slightly already digested per say because the lack of oxygen from the plastic wrap breaks down the lactic bacteria which turns the hay into usable energy.
-you can preserve your hay and keep nutrients inside until the day your livestock eats it
-consumption of hay will go up because your livestock will favor it against anything else, thus reducing your need for other cow feed and increasing the weight of your stock.
How will I save money?
Say you bale 500 bales a year. If you do not wrap your hay you can expect to lose 1/3 of that bale due to factors like spoilage and livestock sorting out the good parts of the bale and leaving the rest. If we know that alfalfa hay bales run about $200/ton and grass hay bales run about $75 a bale, if you take 1/3 of $75 for a grass hay bale, you have just lost $25 per bale if you do not wrap it. Thus, you take $25 x 500 (bales)= $12,500 loss because you did not wrap your hay. So with, say, $300 investment in plastic film, you can earn yourself a much better profit on your hay.
Here’s another example. For every 100 bales of dry hay forage, you need to make 133 bales (100bales / 75%= 133 bales) and if you put $300 worth of silage film on those 100 bales you will save 33 bales at approximately $40 each, 33x$40.00=1320.00 minimum value cost savings.
Each dollar invested in silage film in spring will save $4.00 or more in winter.
You can use this math as well to see how many years it would take in savings to earn you back what you paid for the hay wrapping machine.
What moisture do I need?
Moisture level is 40%-60% for grass, 40%-55% for legumes. This haylage will maintain its feed value for one year. If moisture level is 30%-40%, its not as good after 6 months, but perfect before, so feed first. If moisture level is more than 60%, feed as soon as possible within 6months. For a fast and effective way to test moisture levels, see the picture below on a fast microwave test that proves 100% accurate.
How many bales per hour can I wrap?
We cannot speak for all machines, but the machines we sell from Tubeline, McHale and Diamond single bale wrappers will wrap about a bale a minute, so between 50-60 bales per hour, while the Tubeline inline wrappers you can expect to bale 80-120 per hour.
How many layers of film should I use?
We recommend between 6-7 layers of plastic on hay, legumes cornstalks could need more. As far as single wrappers, in order to get 7 layers you will need to go 21 revolutions (you take the layers of plastic you want x 3 to get the revolutions needed)
What does it cost?
If you are wrapping single bales you can expect to spend $4-6 per bale on plastic wrap
If you are wrapping in line bales you can expect to spend around $3-4 per bale on plastic. The plastic can be obtained from your dealership or a local ag store.
What wrapper should I use?
We have a wrapper to fit your needs. We have in line and single bale wrappers, round and square bale wrappers, self-loading machines, 3point hitch or linkage machines, machines for smaller producers and for commercial, high output customers, and even baler/wrapper combination machines.