Thursday, September 6, 2012

Silage cutting

posted by Todd

With the silo exhibit opening this week I thought it was interesting that most of the local silage crop is currently being harvested.  One of the main themes of the exhibit how silo technology has actually made a complete circle back to how it started as trenches filled with chopped corn.  These days, the massive vertical buildings are obsolete.  Since I had the chance, I thought I would snap a couple pictures of how it is being done today. 

In the hayday of silos the corn was cut by hand and then brought to a silage chopping machine that would cut it and then blow it up a chute into the silo.  The job was very labor intensive.  To see the mechanized operation today it bears little resemblance to the old methods.  The two parts that remain the same are the corn plant, including the ear is cut into very small pieces and once cut the moist silage needs to ferment.

 Today the machine that chops the corn plant is self propelled and rapidly cuts the corn and loads it into trucks that follow to the side of the chopper.

   Once the truck is full it goes to the farm where it is unloaded and tractors are used to push it into a uniform pile in the above ground trench.  Tractors are also used to pack the silage tight.  Once the trench is filled it will be covered with a plastic wrap to protect and preserve it. 

 With the reduced rainfall this year the crop is not yeilding as good as in years past.  The field that is shown in the pictures is producing about 12-13 tons to the acre.  An average yeild of 16 tons might be expected in a more normal year.