DEAR SIR: I refer to your article by Barry Cassidy in the Irish Farmers Journal dated Saturday 27 May “Silage Wrap Prices Reduced on 2016 levels”. As a specialist in supplying silage film (plastic/ wrap) to many of your readers over the last 30 years, I would like to expand on some of the points made by Mr Cassidy.

Firstly the key point for all your farmer clients is their objective to ensile high-quality forage so that they obtain high levels of animal production on their farms. In the case of bale silage the best-quality silage is achieved by applying a heavier / thicker plastic or by applying more wraps of a thinner material.

The thicker the plastic, the better the oxygen barrier which results in well-preserved forage. Inadequate amounts of plastic on bales can lead to mouldy silage and in some cases to the complete loss of forage.

Decisions made by farmers based on price per reel of plastic can only be misleading as what appears at first glance to be a cheaper plastic can in fact be a more expensive product. Farmers should be made aware of the reel weight differences and the plastic thickness differences.

On the Irish market the vast majority of silage wrap brands are all the same length at 1500m and are all the same height at 750mm. The critical difference is in the thickness of the plastic.

A survey conducted in recent weeks shows a huge variation in both reel weights and in the thickness of the plastics (See table 1).

Making a decision based on price between brand A and brand G is very misleading as there is a difference of over 17% in the reel weight and the plastic thickness between the two materials.

Brand A is worth €14.00 to €15.00 more than brand G! And where the farmer applies brand A over brand B he/she would be applying 17% more plastic at all times irrespective of whether they use 4 layers, 6 layers or 8 layers.

The benefits will accrue in the form of better-quality silage as the thicker plastic provides a better oxygen barrier all the time.

If one was to use a price only comparison (as was the case in Mr Cassidy’s article) and assume Brand G could be purchase at €75.0 /reel, then brand A is worth €88.00 per reel. So price comparisons on a per reel only basis are very misleading. Finally a simple test, which can be conducted at farm level, is to weigh the reels on farm.

Farmers can then make informed decisions and establish which film brands are the heaviest and are likely to provide the best protection for their forage.