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Thursday, September 1, 2016

What is Chopping Silage and Why Do You Leave Corn Standing in the Field...

These are two questions that I often hear.  People also want to know why we just let our crops die in the field.  I wrote a whole post on that topic and you can check it out here.  When we chop silage, we chop it when it is still green because we want there to be some moisture left in the plant.




When we let the corn dry in the field for harvest, we only want the corn kernels.  The combine separates everything else and spreads it back on the ground like in the picture below.  This will break down over the winter and add nutrients back into the soil.

But, around Labor Day we begin chopping silage.  It may be earlier or later depending on the weather.  We chopped this past week and are finishing up custom chopping today.


Basically everything gets used from the corn plant when we chop silage.  It creates on big salad for the cattle and they love it.  The chopper chops the corn and it is blown onto a wagon being pulled by a tractor beside it.


I grew up on a dairy farm where we chopped a lot of silage each year.  It seemed to go on for weeks, but really it was only a few days.  The whole process amazes me.  I don't know why exactly.  Maybe I just like seeing so much action on the farm at one time?  I don't know, but this might be my favorite time on the farm.  And the smell of silage is amazing;).



Hitching a ride with Dad..








We put the silage into a bag to keep it nice and fresh all year long.  I like to think of chopping silage like canning veggies from your garden.  You want to make sure you have enough to last all year and make sure it stays fresh.  The tractor pulls up beside the bagger...

Then the silage is pulled from the wagons by conveyor...

and sent over to the bagger by way of another conveyor.
This is what the system looks like from the front...


And this is from the back.  As the silage fills the bag, the tractor attatched to the blue and green bagger automatically pulls up a few inches and the process continues until the bag is full.  We fill two bags each year.


So, why don't we chop all of our corn?  Why do we leave some in the fields?  



Don't worry, we won't forget about it and leave it in the field!  We only chop enough to feed our cattle for the year.  The rest will be left in the field to continue drying down and will be harvested by the combine later this fall.  We will store some of that in the grain bins and use for feed as well, but he rest will go the grain elevator to be sold.

what is chopping silage?






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1 comment:

  1. Oh I love your photos and watching a family who work together is a precious thing. B

    ReplyDelete

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