Now is the time to Advance+ your forage and make every tonne count

This year has been one of change and uncertainty, and we aren’t just talking about agriculture!  Prices have fluctuated considerably, for good and bad on all sectors and the weather has been challenging.  It started with a very wet start to Spring and then straight into an extended period of hotter drier conditions.  Grass found it hard to adapt to the conditions, with later manure and fertiliser applications and it never really hit the typical May growth peaks.  As such 1st cut yields were lower than expected, albeit in favourable dry conditions but there is some catch up needed so that clamps and bale yards are full for the winter feeding period.

Farms will be looking to capitalise on the remaining grass cuts and alternative forages to make up any deficit in 1st cut yields.  Reports around the country are that 2nd cuts are looking good and have yielded well.  With every tonne of silage important, farms should be looking to minimise dry matter (DM) losses from forage at ensiling.  Research has shown that dry matter losses are costing UK farmers on average £25 per tonne of DM.  Simple changes in silage making practices like ensuring a rapid wilt to a target of 30% DM as quickly as possible to make sure grass is dry enough for the clamp or bale while avoiding losses of essential nutrients.  Also using a silage additive like Advance+ will drive a faster fermentation once ensiled thus reducing DM losses during this process to improve protein and sugar levels and intake potential.

Advance+ consistently improves silage quality when forage analyses are taken.  Based on data from a bank of 200+ samples from 2018, Advance+ had the following benefits:

  1. Reduction of 3.5% DM losses i.e. extra 35 tonne DM in 1000 tonne clamp
  2. Extra 0.52 MJ/kg of Metabolisable Energy (ME) which can provide extra 1.5 L of milk from forage
  3. Extra 46% sugar content as Advance+ bugs are more efficient during fermentation

If you are now thinking to yourself now that you want to reduce DM losses during ensilage and that you want more nutrients in your silage, then you need to be using a silage additive like Advance+ on every cut.

Provita Advance+ provides such dependable results because of the unique EU-approved triple strain combination.  All strains of bacteria in Advance+ are registered with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which requires extensive dossiers covering quality, safety, and efficacy.  Being a multi-strain product it also increases reliability over a wider range of conditions which is very useful for the unpredictable weather conditions we can have.  Applied at the recommended rate, Advance+ is guaranteed to supply 1.2 million bacteria per gram of forage.  This high level of inoculant means sufficient numbers of bacteria are present to kick start and accelerate the fermentation process to lock in that goodness in the silage as demonstrated above.  There is lot of research to show that for green crops in the UK, a minimum of 1 million bacteria per gram of forage needs to be applied, as additives containing less will not be cost effective and will not control the preservation you require.

Using Advance+ will improve face stability and prevent heating because of the inclusion of acetic acid forming bacteria in the mixture.  Although it is more of an insurance policy to help some inaccuracies in the ensiling process, care will need to be taken to avoid over-wilting as spoilage organisms will build up on the crop the longer it is left and adequate rolling at filling time will help consolidation.  Yet Advance+ is very effective at reducing spoilage, moulding and heating issues at silage face provided normal silage management is good

Silages treated with Advance+ consistently show more true protein, more energy and higher digestibility resulting in improved animal performance.  So by not using a silage additive you are not saving money, it is actually costing you money because the losses are greater and animals will underperform and require more concentrates to make up the difference!

Typically using Advance+ will yield a return on investment of 6:1 even in good weather.  Advance+ will have a cost equivalent to 4-5 pence per cow per day and calculated milk yield response can be 1.5 Litres per cow per day.  Therefore for no more than 5 pence you are likely to get back at least 30 pence on every cow, every day.  I think you can agree this is a reasonable investment!

Francis and Joe Connon, Limavady know the benefits of using Advance+.  They run a 220 dairy herd and anaerobic digester (AD) on the outskirts of Limavady.  New entrants to dairy having started in July 2019, having reduced the suckler herd and finishing numbers.  A big focus for them has always been to make the best quality silage for the milking herd, youngstock and ADs to maximise profits from forage.  Most years will see Joe ensile 1800-2000 acres of forage, predominantly grass, along with rye and maize. Joe recently commented that “all grass silage was very good quality and despite being dry it fed out very well.  We also used Advance+ on the rye crop last year and fermentation and stability was 100%. We plan to cut rye next week, then onto 2nd cut on the following days which will all be treated with Advance+”.

With Joe taking care of much of the day-to-day running of the dairy unit and ADs, this leaves Francis more time to focus on his other business at Connon’s General Merchants, Kells, Ballymena.  Having such good results with Advance+ on his own farming enterprises, Francis is pleased to stock Advance+ to supply local customers so they gain the same benefits.

Advance+ has been specifically formulated to be used on grass, wholecrop and maize forages to provide optimum fermentation and stability characteristics.  This multi-purpose nature of Advance+ has helped grow its popularity for wholecrop and maize applications.  Co. Armagh milk producer and Artisan cheese maker at Ballylisk, Dean Wright will grow approximately 40-45 acres of wholecrop each year.  Having tried Advance+ on wholecrop a few years, after great success on grass silage, the results were just as pleasing.  Dean explained, “having to handle only one additive is 1 less thing to think about and Advance+ does a great job fermenting the wholecrop, with very little spoilage and keeping it cool at the face through the winter.  I cannot justify paying a higher price for a wholecrop specific additive when Advance+ does as good a job.”

For more information contact George Shaw, MPharm MPSNI, Technical Adviser,, 07841 926219.  *references available on request