Drive-over silage piles can be an affordable, flexible storage option for many farmers. Whether used as a temporary solution for excess feed, or as a replacement for upright or bunker silos, well managed silage piles can reduce spoilage, and eliminate feedout, storage, and maintenance hazards associated with more conventional storage options.
Certified crop advisor and agronomy consultant Everett “Ev” Thomas has witnessed both the success and popularity of silage piles increase over the past 20 years. He offers the following tips on how to make the most of your silage piles:
Pile Slope: Silage piles should be packed front-to-back and side-to-side, achieving a gradual slope that tractors are able to drive up and over. The optimal slope is no greater than 1:3, as piles that are too steep will have excess spoilage and may increase chances of tractor rollover.
Pile Density: Strive for a minimum dry matter density of 15 pounds per cubic foot. The University of Wisconsin-Extension offers helpful spreadsheets to calculate ideal pile size and density.
Cover: Cover with a combination of oxygen-impermeable barrier film and plastic, providing plenty of overlap at seams. Weight down cover across entire surface area of pile.
Space Considerations: Individual piles should be constructed with enough space to easily maneuver tractors and feeding equipment in the area.
Drainage: An elevated site with a compact surface will ensure that moisture drains away from the silage, rather than pooling near the pile.
Water Sources: Avoid constructing piles near water sources, as leachate and runoff can contaminate ground water.
Hanson, Maureen. “Silage: Pile it on.” Dairy Herd Management.