New research shows that 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 the silage pile. The graphic below depicts how this was done.
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-barrier method, says Limin Kung, silage preservation expert and professor of ruminant nutrition at the
Kung’s group has not compared lining 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 also is needed to evaluate the cost of covering a bunker with oxygen-barrier plastic versus regular plastic.
Source: Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 90, Suppl. 1, Abstr. #183, 2007