New research shows the lining the sidewalls of a bunker with an oxygen-barrier plastic prevented rain from infiltrating the silage at the sidewalls. This helped prevent dry-matter loss in a bunker covered with oxygen-barrier plastic, a tarp and gravel bags.

During the experiment, researchers lined one sidewall of a bunker with an oxygen-barrier plastic. After filling the bunker with silage, they draped the plastic over the top of silage pile. Next, they covered that half of the silage with an oxygen-barrier plastic, a tarp and gravel-filled bags. They covered the other half of the silage with polyethylene plastic and split tires.

The researchers sampled the silage at five, seven and 10 months after ensiling.

In addition to having a higher dry-matter content, the corn silage covered with the oxygen-barrier method also had lower pH and a lower neutral detergent fiber content than corn silage covered with regular plastic and tires.

The researchers say that lining the sidewall kept water from seeping into the silage at the sidewall. That helps explain the positive outcome for the silage covered with the oxygen-limiting method, says Limin Kung, silage-preservation expert and professor of ruminant nutrition at the University of Delaware.

 Kung’s group has not compared liming the sidewalls with oxygen-barrier plastic versus regular plastic. However, it probably doesn’t matter what type of plastic you use to line the sidewalls, Kung says, just so long as it doesn’t tear.

More research is needed to evaluate the cost of covering a bunker silo with oxygen-barrier plastic versus regular plastic. For more details, follow this link.