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Choosing the right inoculant for your corn silage

News   •   Aug 01, 2016 09:00 GMT

By Natasja Nielsen, Product Manager, Silage Inoculants

With corn harvests fast approaching, now is the time for dairy producers to prepare for a successful silage-making season. That means checking and organizing equipment, making any needed repairs and regularly monitoring moisture levels to determine the best time to chop.

Another important decision is which silage inoculant to use, but since many factors affect fermentation, this can be a difficult choice. To make this decision easier, we’ve developed a variety of handy tools to help you make the best decision for your crops — and ultimately for your cows.

Fermentation fundamentals

Immediately after harvest, forage begins to degrade due to plant respiration and the presence of aerobic microorganisms on the crop surface, including bacteria, fungi and yeasts. Compacting forage in air-tight bunkers preserves forage by halting respiration, while depriving spoilage microorganisms of the oxygen they need to grow.

At the same time, the anaerobic environment of the silage bunker allows lactic acid bacteria to flourish. As lactic acid is produced, silage pH falls, making it even harder for most spoilage microorganisms to grow. Although certain yeasts can still thrive in low-pH conditions, some lactic acid bacteria — such as Lactobacillus buchneri — also produce acetic acid, which is a natural anti-fungal.

Lactic acid bacteria occur naturally on forage, but some strains are more effective than others at reducing pH. Furthermore, their numbers may not always be sufficient to compete with all unwanted organisms, particularly after cold weather. Containing specially selected strains of lactic acid bacteria, Chr. Hansen’s SiloSolve® range of silage inoculants — SiloSolve® FC, SiloSolve® MC and SiloSolve® AS — improve fermentation by ensuring the appropriate numbers and ratios of the most effective microbial strains for your corn, depending on your individual needs (Table 1).

Table 1. SiloSolve Inoculant strains, features and benefits

Product Strains Features
SiloSolve® FC Lactococcus lactis 0224, Lactobacillus buchneri LB1819
  • Allows for early opening after as little as 1 week of fermentation
  • Covers most crops and moisture conditions
  • Increases dry matter recovery up to 4% points
  • L. buchneri improves aerobic stability by producing acetic acid, a natural anti-fungal
SiloSolve® MC Lactobacillus plantarum CH6072 Lactobacillus lactis SR3.54 Enterococcus faecium
  • Increases dry matter recovery up to 5.4 % points
  • Provides excellent control over clostridial fermentation
  • Improves milk yield 2-5%
SiloSolve® AS Lactobacillus buchneri LB1819 Lactobacillus plantarum CH6072 Enterococcus faecium
  • Increases dry matter recovery up to 5% points
  • Improves aerobic stability
  • L. buchneri produces acetic acid, a natural anti-fungal

Selecting a silage inoculant

So, which silage inoculant is best for you? This largely depends on crop moisture levels, as different organisms — both wanted and unwanted — thrive in different conditions. Fortunately, SiloSolve® silage inoculants are effective across a wide range of dry matter (DM) contents (Figure 1).

Figure 1. SiloSolve inoculant recommendations for various corn crops and dry matter ranges.

It is very important to ensure that your silage is fermented well to ensure aerobic stability, as indicated by how long silage stays fresh at feed-out. Low aerobic stability means silage spoils sooner, resulting in waste, decreased palatability and nutritional value. If aerobic stability has been an issue for you in the past, SiloSolve® FC has been shown to increase aerobic stability regardless of how long silage has fermented, which also makes it a good choice if you anticipate early feed-out due to feed shortage.

Product selector tools

To complement our online product selector tool, we have developed a handy, portable product selector wheel that recommends products based on your crop conditions, as well as the proper dosage. If you haven’t already received our newest support tool, feel free to contact us or your local SiloSolve® distributor.