Silage, an ancient agricultural practice, remains one of the most cost-effective ways for farmers to obtain high-energy, nutrient-rich forage throughout the year, especially in regions with seasonal rainfall, but remains an important component. Agriculture Industry – Its significance has led to the creation of Plus Media’s annual Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition.
Now in its ninth year, the competition sets the industry benchmark for better quality food – and milk and meat production – which benefits the entire agricultural value chain, says Hanlie Kroese of Santam Agri Segment Solutions.
“As Santam, we are the title sponsor of the competition, which sees producers compete for the title of top silage producer or ‘Silage King’. Importantly, the data collected creates a standard against which producers are measured, providing valuable insights on how to do so. Plus Media will host over 100 competitions this year. Entries received, several manufacturers have entered over the years.
“The sampling phase of the competition has just been completed, and we expect good results this year,” says Kroes.
Four students from different South African universities were trained according to a published protocol and took turns sampling different locations in South Africa. This year’s selected students are JD Stemmet and Timothy Chilimba from the University of Pretoria, and JG Els and Andries van der Merwe from the University of the Free State.
The students were trained by Richard Venter of Agsci Unlimited. Professor Robin Meske of the Outeniqua Research Farm in the Western Cape oversees the competition protocol and analyzes the data from the laboratory. He also commented on each entry, which is useful for the silage reports that all registrants will receive after the competition.
A sustainable practice for environmental protection
Crouse briefly explains that silage is an environmentally sustainable practice that involves fermenting animal feed, a process in which crops such as corn, oats or sorghum are harvested when they are green, bagged or stored, compacted and then deoxygenated. and covered to allow fermentation to occur. The idea is to harvest when there is a lot of rain, then to have a stock of fodder throughout the year and during the annual drought or drought, because silage can be stored for up to 10 years or more.
“Controlling the quality and quantity of silage gives farmers a way to ensure that livestock — like cows and sheep have specialized digestive systems that digest nutrients from plant food — get a high-quality texture. I prefer straw.”
According to Croes, the silages judged at the competition include corn silage, small grain silage (oats), pastured sorghum and sesame bales. Maize is the main silage crop in South Africa and many other countries and is of high quality and yield. “Forage sorghum is drought tolerant, so the risk of crop loss is low, but its energy value is low. And oats are best for winter rainfall regions like the Western Cape, where farmers follow a monsoon pattern.”
“These silages are suitable for different animals, for example, a cow that produces high-quality milk needs a high-energy silage, because a crop with high fiber, low digestibility, low protein and / or low energy reduces the level of milk production. Although silage is an animal diet Although it is a part, it is a very important part.
A cost-effective option for farmers
“History shows that silage has helped some producers survive very difficult financial years. By producing good quality silage, farmers save costs when they grow the nutrients they need to feed their animals. This affects the profitability of the farm as farmers do. “I need to buy more feed, which is of better quality than silage. could be.
In addition to financial sustainability, silage is environmentally sustainable, a fact consumers are more aware of as climate change awareness increases. Consider pasture production in the Eastern Cape using surplus grass as silage. It is a very natural and ancient process where nothing is added to the food except 100% natural lactic acid bacteria (inoculants).
Ultimately, silage is a way for farmers to control their own risk management, plan for years of reduced rainfall and ensure their animals have the best nutrition possible, Crouse said. “This competition will raise awareness of the importance of this ancient art, especially as South Africans are becoming more aware of the origins of their food.”