RWN Products - Silage Covers

Silage Sheets, Covers, Oxygen Barrier Film and Nets

Efficient Silage Making

What happens over the next 24 hours in and around the silage pit will decide whether tens of thousands of pounds are made or lost over the coming yearSilage making relies on anaerobic fermentation to convert sugars to organic acids. An anaerobic fermentation cannot take place in the presence of air. Where oxygen is present due to poor consolidation, inadequate sealing or where sheeting is delayed this process is slow, inefficient and wasteful resulting in high dry matter losses. Often there will be top surface waste, a poorer fermentation in the top third of the clamp combined with with heating and spoilage on the face. This is especially so when relying on bacteria naturally present on the crop to carry the fermentation.

Fermentation can only begin when there is no air in the clamp

On the other hand the use of a silage inoculant or biological additive together with rapid filling, good consolidation and an effective air tight sealing will generally result in a very fast and efficient fermentation with minimal losses of dry matter. The result being a well fermented silage with minimal waste, more feed value and excellent intake characteristics. A silage inoculant or additive supplies selected elite strains of bacteria which are capable of rapidly fermenting sugars to acids much more efficiently than will take place in an uncontrolled fermentation. This could be likened to running a race with an Olympic athlete set against an 'old codger from down the village'.

Fast fermentation reduces losses, minimises waste and makes better silage
Always use an additive

Dropping the pH to below 5 in a matter of hours deactivates protease enzymes preventing protein breakdown and dramatically reduces the multiplication and activity of a wide range of spoilage organisms including clostridia, yeasts and moulds. With an inoculant, within a day or two the pit will be dropping towards 4 pH and becoming stable. This compares with up to 6 - 8 weeks for untreated clamps. A silage inoculant will rapidly drop the pH without wasting vast amounts of nutrients on heating the silage clamp for weeks on end. Whether or not an additive is used the fermentation cannot begin until there is no air in the clamp. That is why using good quality silage films and covers is so important.

Any air in the clamp will delay the fermentation and dramatically increase losses.
Make sure that the clamp really is air tight

Lack of consolidation and inadequate sealing of silage pits often result in thousands of pounds worth of lossesIt is not unusual to find silage clamps where the top metre or two of silage is low in quality compared to the bottom metre of the pit, due to impaired fermentation caused by oxygen presence during the early part of the fermentation. Often the these top layers are prone to heating on the face and are contaminated with mycotoxins. Not only will these contaminated layers have reduced feed value and poor intake characteristics they may cause the TMR or complete diet to heat. This can result in a loss of milk yield of up to 5 litres along with all sorts of knock on effects on cow health and fertility.

Inadequate sealing can represent a massive loss in output and profitability

Keeping Air out of Silage Clamps

A well made maize pit using RWN Goldshake Arable additive with the Silostop System to exclude air. Compare this with the more commonly seen grass silage clamp above.The amount of air in the pit depends on a wide range of factors. Firstly dry matter % is obviously important. Below 25% DM most of the spaces between the particles of silage will be taken by liquid. Above 30% DM unless the clamp is extremely well consolidated air can penetrate up to 1 - 2 metres from the surface or face with relative ease. Obviously wet, short chopped, leafy material, low in fibre will consolidate much better than dry, long chopped, stalky material.

Packing density is important. Ruppel, 1992 showed that dry matter losses halved from 20% to 10% when packing density was doubled. That is equivalent to saving 100 tonnes of silage for every 1000 tonnes clamped. More rolling with heavier machines on narrow tyres, rolling no more than 15cms of silage at a time will give the best consolidation. Clamps should never be overfilled. Steep shoulders and slopes of more than 30o are almost impossible to roll. Wetter silage is much heavier than dry silage so putting some direct cut grass on top can be highly beneficial. The faster that filling is completed and the silage sheet goes on the better.

Covering Systems for sealing Silage Clamps

Silostop Protective Nets and Silostop Oxygen Barrier Film, really are the ideal solution to effectively seal the silage pit. Use additional weight on edges, slopes and shoulders.Richard Webster has looked at hundreds of silage clamps every year for the past 30 years. it is quite clear that some farms produce silage with virtually no visible waste and excellent fermentation characteristics year in year out, whilst others make silage which has top waste and a very average fermentation most of the time.

This is probably one of the reasons why the top 10% of farms have always made double the profit per cow compared with the bottom 10%. Attention to detail. Basically there is nothing that the best silage makers are doing that can't be done by the whole industry.

Stating the obvious, oxygen will only stay out of the clamp if there is an impermeable, air tight barrier between the silage and the outside air. If the edges aren't air tight, if there are holes in it, if there are air pockets under it, if there are gaps at the edges, if it is permeable to air then air will get through. On outside pits where the wind constantly changes in pressure much more air will get through.

If the clamp does not have a truly air tight seal, then there will be losses and waste

Silostop Silage Covers effctively keep air and oxygen out of the pit. Well constructed pits, good rolling and attention to detail in sealing the pit are important. Make sure that there are no gaps or damage to the sheet and that the Silostop is in close contact with the silage. Additional weight on the net is beneficial. Take the time to make perfect silageBoth standard black silage sheets and the new thin clear polythene clamp films which have recently entered the market are both made of polythene are permeable to oxygen. In fact black plastic sheets have been shown to be capable of transmitting around 2 litres of oxygen per square metre per day across the whole sheet and clear polythene cling film sheets around 7 litres of oxygen / m2 / day. Even putting several sheets on will allow significant amounts of oxygen into the clamp.

When we consider that average dry matter of grass silage over 30 years has risen from 22% to 32%, we make more dry wholecrops and maize silages, we have more outside clamps, we use far fewer tyres, we have less labour available to do a proper job of sealing the clamp, then it is not surprising that despite the massive technological improvements in silage additives, silage making techniques, machinery, nets, silage films and silage covers and gravel bags we still have a major problem with waste and excessive dry matter losses in silage clamps. Good quality silage sheets and covers really do make a massive difference to losses. Click here to see how to sheet and seal a silage clamp properly. Take care to avoid accidents with silage pits.

Despite massive technological improvements, we still have a major problem with excessive losses in silage clamps

Fortunately there is a cost effective solution. For several years now Richard Webster Nutrition has been promoting a completely new type of sheet. A genuine barrier to oxygen - Silostop Oxygen Barrier Film.

Silostop Silage Covering Systems

Silostop oxygen barrier tested by scientists, proven by farmers. The only genuine oxygen barrier for silage clampsSilostop® was developed in Italy by a joint effort between a leading plastic film manufacturer and University scientists. This was at the request of Italian farmers for assistance from the University for ways to improve their silage quality and minimise the risk of moulds in the silage entering the food chain. This was particularly important when producing certain cheeses. Silostop Oxygen Barrier Film has been scientifically proven by a number of research centres in the UK, the USA and across Europe.

Silostop Oxygen Barrier Film

The Silostop silage covering systems consists of a Clear Oxygen Barrier Film along with close weave Silostop anti-UV protective nets and Silostop gravel bags. The Silostop oxygen barrier film is quite different from other clear cling film type sheets which are made of polythene and which do transmit oxygen. Silostop silage film is just as effective as standard cling film type sheets at clinging to the silage surface but unlike other clear films or black plastic sheets Silostop silage films prevent the transmission of any significant amounts of oxygen into the silage surface.

"Silostop Oxygen Barrier Film has been the most important development in silaging during the past 45 years. It has given us the means to exclude oxygen out of the silage clamp " - Keith Bolsen, Professor Emeritus Kansas State University.

Silostop is the ONLY true Oxygen Barrier Film for Silage

Types of Silage Sheets available in the UK

There are many branded silage sheets and cling film products available in the UK, many claiming to be as good, better or cheaper than Silostop. This can be very confusing. Basically silage sheets fall into 3 distinct categories.

  • Black Plastic sheets made from polythene, usually recycled, coloured black to protect them from sunlight. Black plastic is water proof but is porous to air transmitting large volumes of air into the silage clamp especially on windy sites.
  • Cling Film products made from clear virgin polythene. These silage cling film products are thinner than black plastic sheets sealing better at the edges and forming to the silage more effectively than the thicker black plastic. They are waterproof, but transmit several times more air than black plastic sheeting and are easily damaged.
  • Silostop Oxygen Barrier Films are almost as strong as black sheets and almost as thin as cling film products. As well as being waterproof Silostop films are a genuine oxygen barrier transmitting minimal amounts of oxygen even on windy, exposed sites. These are the only silage sheets or silage films with extensive independent research demonstrating their ability to exclude oxygen, improve silage fermentation characteristics and consistently reduce silage losses compared with other sheeting systems.

Silage losses occur when oxygen is not effectively excluded during the fermentation

Silostop Oxygen Barrier film is much more effective than other silage sheets at keeping air out of the clamp. Used with protective nets and RWN Lorry Tyre Sidewalls to apply an even pressure Silostop really is the ideal solution to effective silage pit sealingTests on Silostop at Michigan State University forage research centre showed dramatic reductions in oxygen transmission compared with other silage sheets. Silostop oxygen barrier film has proven extremely effective at reducing or eliminating top waste on grass silage, wholecrop, maize and crimped cereals on commercial farms. Silostop is the only genuine oxygen barrier film currently available and should not be confused with cheap low density polythene films. Silostop oxygen barrier film has repeatedly been shown in trials to reduce dry matter losses in the top layers of silage by 10% - 20%.

Silostop Oxygen Barrier is more than 100 times better than conventional clear plastic silage films at preventing oxygen transmission

Download the Silostop Orange Oxygen Barrier Film brochure and the Silostop Leaflet.

Silostop Orange Oxygen Barrier Film can be used under standard black plastic sheets or as a single sheet under close weave nets which protect the sheet from sunlight or holes. Silostop Black Oxygen Barrier Film is UV stable and can be used as a single sheet under any type of protective net. Silostop film is tinted orange in colour and is used in the same way as a black plastic sheet to cover the top of the pit and can be protected from UV light either by a new or re-used black plastic sheet or a close weave protective anti-UV net. Since the objective is to exclude oxygen particular attention should be paid to sealing the edges and to protecting the sheet from damage, making sure that all silage sheets, covers and protective nets are secure and well sealed at the edges. Use gravel bags on seams, shoulders and edges and for best results weight the sheets and silage nets with gravel bags, tyres or lorry tyre sidewalls.

Silostop is the ONLY true Oxygen Barrier Film for Silage

Trials with Silostop Oxygen Barrier Film at the University of Nottingham showed that where Silostop film was used instead of conventional black plastic sheeting, silage judged to be inedible and discarded on 1700 tonne silage clamps, was reduced from 5.9% to 0.1% or from 100 tonnes per clamp to 1.7 tonnes. Assuming an additional cost of around £300 for Silostop and a cost of £30 / tonne for silage this would save more than £2500 per clamp giving a return on investment of around 8:1 even before taking into account improvements in silage feed quality and animal performance.

A recent review of over 50 trials comparing Silostop oxygen barrier films with standard polythene clearly demonstrated not only reduced dry matter losses but also improved aerobic stability with the top layers of silage staying cool for 60 hours longer.

Silostop Oxygen Barrier can improve aerobic stability by up to 2.5 days

Watch this video featuring Keith Bolsen, Professor Emeritus, Kansas State University, to see how better sealing with new oxygen barrier films can improve profitability.

Protective Nets and Gravel Bags

Gravel Bags

Trial work with different silage covers at Leeds University has shown that Silostop film, nets, covers and gravel bags are more effective than other systems which replace tyres. RWN Lorry Tyre Rings can be used to apply additional weight across the pit where requiredGravel bags are highly beneficial especially on outside pits. They have a much heavier footprint than tyres and mould to the silage better along walls, shoulders and at the pit edges. Gravel bags are 1 metre in length when filled and weigh around 25kg.

Gravel bags are much more effective than tyres when used against walls, on the ground, along the face and along seams and joins in the sheets. Gravel bags can also be used across the pit at 3 metre intervals as an alternative to tyres.

RWN Protective Silage Covers and Nets

We offer a wide range of Protective Silage Covers and Nets. These are designed to protect plastic silage sheets and films from holes caused by birds, cats and dogs as well as from any other accidental physical damage which would allow entry of oxygen or water in to the silage pit.

Anti-UV nets mould well to the silage and can be used directly on top of the clear orange oxygen barrier film avoiding the need to use a black plastic sheet to protect the film from sunlight. Nets are much easier to use than tyres.

Anti-UV protective nets are close weave, non-slip and are relatively impermeable to wind pressure changes making them a much better option than the widely used open weave silage nets.

Trial work at Leeds University has clearly demonstrated that close weave Anti-UV nets are much more effective in reducing oxygen transmission into the clamp than open weave, see-through nets and covers. The Silostop close weave net reduced DM losses in the top 30cms of silage due to oxygen transmission from 35% to 8.2% when used on top of two black sheets.

Anti-UV Protective Nets are much more effective than open weave nets

Anti-UV close weave protective silage nets have many advantages over most other silage nets. They are wind resistant reducing oxygen transmission when used over standard plastic films or silage sheets. They are very flexible, forming well to the silage and are easier to handle. They can be used directly over plastic film without need for a black sheet. They are non-slip so gravel bags are less prone to sliding off the slopes. Most importantly anti-UV protective silage nets are much safer to walk on than most open weave nets widely available in the UK.

Silostop Protective Nets are NON-SLIP and much safer than most open weave nets

Silostop Open Weave Nets: These are a premium net which will protect plastic silage sheets and oxygen barrier films from damage preventing ingress of water and oxygen into the silage clamp. They are very durable and guaranteed bird proof.

Advanced Silage Covers : This is a new type of thicker cover which is quite different to conventional woven polypropylene nets. The extra thickness gives greater protection against pin-holing of sheets caused by claws of birds and small mammals which may happen with some conventional protected covers.

Download the Silostop Protective Net brochure and the Silostop Gravel Bags brochure.

Silostop Reduces Losses in Silage Clamps

Wet brewers grains trial. Silostop oxygen barrier film eliminated top waste as seen under black plastic. 'Since using Silostop OB on wet brewers grains on both indoor and outdoor clamps we no longer get waste on top of the pit.' Mick Hulse - Consal 2011Silostop can be used in various combinations with other covering materials either with or without tyres. One of the best combinations is Oxygen Barrier Film, covered with Silostop Protective Silage Nets with gravel bags round the edges and RWN Lorry Tyre Sidewalls to apply an even weight across the pit. They make the best and most effective silage pit covers dramatically reducing top waste on silage pits.

As well as being effective on a wide range of ensiled crops Silostop oxygen barrier film is particularly useful for controlling spoilage and top waste on moist feeds as can be seen from the picture here.

Feed value savings from using Silostop are far greater than the additional cost
compared with cheaper clear silage films

Maize silage surface trial. No waste with Silostop oxygen barrier and severe spoilage with black plastic silage sheets. Poor sealing and air penetration into silage pits often results in thousands of pounds worth of lossesA clamp of high quality forage is very valuable. A little additional time and effort in sealing the clamp together with a little additional investment in additives, sheets, nets and covers can make all the difference between a below average product with high dry matter losses, poor fermentation, mycotoxins, spoilage and heating on the face, or a superb, stable, feed with excellent intake characteristics capable of supporting very high levels of performance and milk yields with less reliance on concentrates.

Genuine Oxygen Barrier Film Options

Genuine 45 micron oxygen barrier is available either as Silostop Orange, Passion Gold or as Silostop Black Silage Sheets. Whilst strength is comparable to conventional 100 micron black plastic sheets, 45 micron oxygen barrier films are much better at moulding and clinging to the silage surface and much better at sealing at the edges than conventional 100 micron black silage sheets.

Silostop Oxygen Barrier Sheets consistently out-perform other silage films and sheets with regard to top waste and surface spoilage. In this trial Silostop Black reduced dry matter losses equivalent to saving £0.60 worth of maize silage per square metre of silage surface compared with a 2 in 1 sheeting system. Silostop Orange or Passion Gold oxygen barrier films are designed for use either under standard black plastic silage sheets or under a close weave anti-UV protective net.

Silostop Black is used as a single sheet under a protective net.

Silostop Max is a new thicker 80 micron orange on black oxygen barrier sheet which is designed for use where only one sheet is used with or without a net.

For best results, our preferred option is to use 45 micron Oxygen Barrier Film, then fold over side sheets and then apply a conventional black sheet. Cover with a protective net. Gravel bag around the edge of the pit then cover with lorry tyre sidewalls, touching across the whole surface. This generally produces a completely air tight seal with no top waste and greatly reduced dry matter losses in the top metre of silage.

Silostop Silage Covers Customer Testimonials:

A R Cox & Son, Manor Farm Staffordshire

JM & SE Jackson, Longpools Farm, Shropshire

For further information including Silostop scientific trial data, product information, and Frequently Asked Questions download the Silostop Brochure. Have you ordered your Silostop yet.

Use a genuine oxygen barrier film as a matter of course for superb quality silage


A More Effective Clamp Sealing System

For advice on making better silage and reducing feed costs, contact Richard Webster.

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