Ecosyl silage specialist Peter Smith is urging farmers not to let high fuel costs deter them from making extra cuts of silage.
He is warning that the impact of higher diesel prices could be minimal compared to the benefit of having better-quality silage down the line, particularly as the outlook for bought-in feed costs and input costs is ambiguous.
“First-cut silage has been made 2-3 weeks early on many farms this year, but some farmers are now considering dropping out a cut to save fuel,” he said.
“Clearly, farmers need to look at the financials for their individual farm situations. But don’t just look at the cost of each cut. Look also at its potential benefits.”
Regarding the benefits, Smith drew an example from research conducted on five-cuts of silage a few years ago.
“Research we conducted a few years ago showed that grass cut five times had the potential to support 3,500L/ha more milk compared with taking three cuts,” he said.
“This was based on the five-cut approach being both higher in metabolisable energy and producing a higher dry matter yield over the season. At a milk price of 40 p/L, that extra 3,500L is worth £1,400 compared with £875 when milk was just 25p/L.
“The other advantage of cutting more often is it provides more opportunities to apply slurry,” he added.
“That can be significant if looking to reduce reliance on expensive bagged fertiliser,” he said.