Drive-over piles are one of the most common ensiling structures in North America. A well-constructed silage pile can be one of the most economical choices for storing forage. However, drive-over piles can be difficult to pack and result in lost dry matter (DM).
These disadvantages can be minimized by following these six rules for constructing a drive-over pile.
- Choose a location with proper drainage. The pile should be located on a nonporous floor – such as cement, tarmac, etc. – with sufficient slope to carry rain and snowmelt away from the pile.
- Get the dimensions right. The pile dimensions must be sized to provide storage for the amount of forage being brought in, ensuring that the face dimensions allow the target feed-out rate to prevent heating. Spreadsheets for calculating pile dimensions are available online.
- Construct the pile safely. Piles and bunkers should never be filled higher than unloading equipment can safely reach.
- Pack forage rapidly. This helps achieve an anaerobic environment, getting the ensiling fermentation started as quickly as possible to reduce dry matter losses. The minimum recommended packing density is 44 lb. per cubic foot on a fresh-weight basis at 35% dry matter.
- Build using the progressive wedge technique. Build the pile using the progressive wedge technique to maximize packing efficiency and minimize the surface exposed to air. Aim for a run-to-rise ratio greater than 4 to 1.
- Distribute forage in layers no more than 6" thick. Packing equipment should be operated continuously throughout chopping with forage distributed in layers that are, ideally, 4 – and no more than 6 – inches thick to achieve good packing densities.
Additional detail on creating a drive-over pile is available in a five-minute video available from Lallemand Animal Nutrition. The free video is available at https://www.youtube.com/user/LallemandAnimalNutri.
For additional tips on producing high-quality silage, visit www.qualitysilage.com, or Ask the Silage Dr. on Twitter or Facebook.