Plan ahead to bale a surplus

Improving grassland management by changing to rotationally-grazed paddocks can become a headache when it comes to silage making if you rely on a contractor. That’s because the focus is on growing 12 ME leafy, palatable grass for grazing and silage is only made to conserve a surplus (above 3,000 kg DM/ha) or correct a mistake.

Some contractors are unwilling to bale small acreages and light crops. They like scale and size so that they can be in and out quickly. Baling a few acres is not attractive – particularly at short notice. However, regularly measuring grass growth and inputting this data into grazing software helps to predict a surplus. Information means you can plan ahead.

So don’t just ring up and ask whether they can bale five acres tomorrow. Make it worth their while by watching the grass wedge (which tells you when to cut for silage) and being able to give your contractor 10–14 days’ notice.

Buying your own mowing and baling equipment will allow you to be flexible in cutting odd paddocks for silage throughout the season. But do a cost-benefit analysis to justify the kit, or consider sharing machinery with another farm.