Silage Chopping Season
This week it was all hands on deck to help with chopping silage. If you're not familiar with silage, it is cutting the entire plant (ryegrass, sorghum sudan grass, corn, etc.) and chopping it into small pieces. The chopper shoots the chopped pieces into the beds of large trucks (pic below) that take the silage to our silage pit. We then pack the silage down to remove all the air. We will then cover the entire pit with plastic to make it air-tight. The silage will ferment in about 2 weeks. We do this so that the nutritional value is retained so that we can feed our cattle year-round with lower cost feed that has high nutritional content. It requires a whole team effort so we recruit neighbors to help drive trucks to keep everything moving! The bottom picture shows the silage pit about half full, we will continue to mound up the silage past the top level of concrete blocks to make a mountain that rainwater will run off of. The concrete blocks are ~20 ft tall for relative scale!
Another item to note is that chopping silage is a big reason we are capturing higher levels of carbon that some conventional farming. By cutting and storing the whole plant, all of the carbon that the plant has captured is retained. This is different than other practices that only harvest the ear or the soybean and the remaining stalk is left in the pastures or dried out and the carbon is leached back into the air. When we capture carbon, we don't want to give it right back! As ruminants, cattle are able to digest the whole plant so we save the whole plant.