Ask the Quality Silage Experts: Ash Contamination in Forage Crops

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Q. We’ve received some rain, and I’m worried about ash contamination. What can I do about it?

A. Heavy rain splashing soil onto leaves can result in contamination. Yet, dry weather and drought conditions may also contribute to soil contamination from dust blowing onto the crop.

Plants’ internal ash provides minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium that can be utilized by ruminants. Whereas, soil contamination is characterized by elevated concentrations of iron, aluminum and silica. The mineral contributions of ash can be important to animal health and performance. However, non-mineral ash can harbor fungi and bacteria.

To manage soil contamination, we recommend:

  • Avoid harvesting lodged forage
  • Raise the cutter bar of a disc mower and use flat knives
  • Keep the windrow off the ground
  • Keep rake tines from touching the ground
  • Minimize moving hay horizontally
  • Use a windrow merger
  • Storage silage on concrete or asphalt

If you’ve already harvested and ensiled the forage, watch for signs of clostridial spoilage and high ammonia levels.


For additional tips on using forage inoculants, visit


The Silage Dr.


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