Harvesting of first cut silage will get under way within the next fortnight for many farmers.

Before then, it is important to use your time to prepare the pit for fresh grass.

The same goes for baled silage.

Use you time over the coming days to prepare a suitable site for stacking bales.

When it comes to preparing for first-cut silage, outlined are five things to consider.

Scrape or brush out any remnants of silage trapped along the side walls and floor of the clamp, either with a bucket on the loader, yard scraper or hydraulic powered brush.

A tanker load of water will also help wash down the floor, leaving a clean surface for the next crop of grass.

For farmers considering bales this year, make sure you have a clean hardcore area for stacking them.

Ideally, use an area where there is no risk of effluent runoff to watercourses or drains. Stacking on a hardcore area makes it much easier to lift bales during the winter.

Make sure that any effluent seeping from the clamp is collected properly and diverted to storage tanks.

Many farmers make good use of old land drainage pipe placed along the side walls, or along the front of the clamp face to collect and channel seepage into tanks.

Sheeting the side walls of the pit can greatly improve silage fermentation. It is awkward and time-consuming setting the plastic up, but it greatly reduces waste accumulating along the side walls.

Don’t cut the side covers too short. The cover should folds around 2m to 3m inwards on the clamp. Old, damaged top sheets are ideal for this job.

Gather up tyres, gravel bags or weighted covers and stack in an area that is convenient for covering the pit. Discard tyres that are perished and have exposed wires.

If there is silage leftover in the clamp from the most recent winter, there are two options to consider before refilling the pit with a fresh crop.

For a small amount of grass, say no more than two to three grabs from the back wall, the best option is to level this grass over the clamp floor before ensiling fresh grass.

This will avoid a potential split, or weak point in the clamp that could causes slippage when buckraking and rolling the new grass.

If there is a bigger carryover of old silage, then build new grass up to the face of the previous crop taking care to avoid any slippage at the joining point.

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