Farmers have limited choice regarding what to do with old silage wrap rubber now that it has been depleted. Currently, the only feasible alternatives are disposal at commercial waste disposal sites or burial in farm soil. The growing use of pre-cast hay for storing silage has increased in Western Australia over recent years. However, this is now facing a severe decline in crop production over the next few decades due to excessive soil moisture. This problem is unlikely to be addressed through the traditional burying of the waste silos.
In response, farmers are exploring the potential of using clear wraps for silage wrap. This is a cost-effective alternative that has shown encouraging initial returns. Although the cost of producing this quantity of new waste would be higher than traditional burying of the waste, the economic returns may well be more important for farmers in the future.
The two most important factors impacting agricultural production are water and space. High rainfall and the availability of agricultural land mean that hay will need to be stored as dry as possible. If this is the case, then the material needs to be tightly wrapped to prevent moisture from permeating within and damaging the core of the baled layer. As pre-baked, open-faced lignite cells cannot be stacked individually, limiting the amount of space that can be devoted to storing these products. This limitation is the primary reason farmers are increasingly opting to use silage wrap as an effective solution to both storage and packaging requirements.
Another benefit of silage wrap is the prevention of contamination of wet soils by farm equipment or animals. Hay can be fertile agricultural soil with good oxygenation. However, the lack of oxygen in wet soils is more than counteracted by the wrapping method. In a silo bale type bale, it is essential to close the lid before stowing the material. The lids also provide an airtight seal so that hay does not decompose once placed in an area where it can be disturbed. This provides additional protection against vermin, which feed on vegetation and may cause an unpleasant smell if disturbed.
The silage wrap manufacturing process requires very little manual labour. It is typically run at an optimum temperature in an enclosed area. It is then covered with an oxygen supply resistant covering. It is essential to ensure that there is no excess oxygen in the wrapping media as this could result in a reaction with the baled layer and cause premature aging or growth of mould. The final step of the process involves tying the wet material tightly with string or yarn. This provides a robust support system for the silage wrap.
This type of bale wrapper and silage storage system is a highly effective means of keeping oxygenated hay out of the storage bins and out of the reach of vermin and pests. With a tight wrapping bale, hay will be kept fresh and ready to harvest for months. This can be particularly beneficial during the winter months when silage production is at its highest.
Because silage bales are high-quality, they effectively prevent dampness and soil conditions from entering the fields. These conditions can make it difficult for the crop to germinate properly. As a result, bale wrapping hay is essential for ensuring that the crop is as aerated as possible. High-quality silage wrapping material acts as a protective, spore-proof covering for the crop to ensure that moisture does not enter the field and inhibit growth. And, it makes it easier for air to travel through the bales, which keeps the nutrients where they need to be.
In addition to protecting the crop from lousy weather and dampness, bales also protect the hay from rodents and insects. Mice and rats can quickly destroy a large amount of valuable hay, especially if the area has not been treated for months. Silage hay can help prevent this by locking in moisture levels, preventing the hay from drying out too quickly and losing moisture levels. The silage wraps will also act as a barrier, discouraging animals from entering the bales. This will help control the amount of grass that goes into the feeders.