Si­lage can be a gold mine for agri en­trepreneurs

Agriculture - - Contents -

Si­lage mak­ing is a tech­nique that pre­serves for­age crops while at the same time en­hanc­ing their palata­bil­ity and nu­tri­tive con­tent. The beauty of si­lage is that it can be stored for months or even years. But this can also be fed to an­i­mals as early as two weeks af­ter en­sil­ing if the need to feed the an­i­mals arises.

Si­lage mak­ing is sim­ple enough. It is just a mat­ter of cut­ting up the for­age ma­te­ri­als into small pieces and then stor­ing the same in air­tight con­tain­ers. The con­tainer could be plas­tic drums, sacks that are lined with plas­tic, or trenches in the ground. The idea is to keep air out of the stor­age con­tainer.

To en­hance fer­men­ta­tion, mo­lasses di­luted with wa­ter is sprin­kled to mod­er­ately mois­ten the ma­te­ri­als for en­sil­ing. Some peo­ple who have the tech­nol­ogy also add ben­e­fi­cial micro­organ­isms to en­hance the di­gestibil­ity and nu­tri­tive value of the fin­ished prod­uct.

There are sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits in re­sort­ing to si­lage mak­ing. For one, it can as­sure the avail­abil­ity of feed for farm an­i­mals through­out the year. Dur­ing the rainy sea­son, there are an­i­mals that should not be pas­tured in the open be­cause they could get sick, like goats, for in­stance. So they have to be con­fined in the goat house, us­ing si­lage as their feed.

Dur­ing the sum­mer months, green for­age is scarce. So si­lage be­comes handy as ready feed for the an­i­mals.

There are sev­eral crops that can be made into si­lage. These in­clude corn, sorghum, sug­ar­cane tops, Su­per Napier or Pak­chong 1, rice straw, and many for­age grasses. When there is drought and the corn plants are so badly af­fected that they can­not be ex­pected to pro­duce a de­cent yield, the plants can be sal­vaged and made into si­lage.

Si­lage mak­ing can be un­der­taken by the an­i­mal rais­ers them­selves. But if they are rais­ing a lot of an­i­mals, they might not have the time and ex­per­tise to pro­duce their own si­lage. So they need to de­pend on sup­pli­ers who can be spe­cial­ists in si­lage pro­duc­tion.

For com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion, ma­chines to har­vest the for­age crops and shred them at the same time are nec­es­sary. And that is the rea­son why ma­chine fab­ri­ca­tors like the Cen­tral Is­abela Agri Man­u­fac­tur­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (CIAMC) based in Cauayan City have mod­i­fied a Ger­man-made rice and corn har­vester so it can also be used to har­vest for­age and shred the har­vested crops at the same time.

Ac­tu­ally, there is a mar­ket for si­lage, ac­cord­ing to Eu­gene T. Gabriel of CIAMC. If there are private en­trepreneurs who in­tend to go into com­mer­cial si­lage pro­duc­tion, the mar­ket is there. Gabriel re­vealed that they are sell­ing their present pro­duc­tion at R6 per kilo. The profit mar­gin is al­ready sig­nif­i­cant at that price. If one is ef­fi­cient, es­pe­cially with the use of mechanized for­age har­vest­ing, the cost might not even be R2 per kilo.

At any rate, here is one more field of in­vest­ment at which agripreneurs can take a good sec­ond look.— ZAC B. SARIAN

Dairy cows at ISU rel­ish­ing corn si­lage.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.