Beneficial Management Practices: Environmental Manual for Crop Producers in Alberta - Silaging

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 Silage seepage | Silage gases and odours

Silaging produces a palatable, nutritional feed supply. Silage can be harvested in almost all weather conditions. It offers a way to salvage hail-damaged, frozen and weedy crops, and can also be used as an environmentally friendly form of weed control. Fields intended for silage can be planted to a variety of crops, increasing the diversity of plant life.

Silage Seepage

Silage must be handled and stored properly to prevent seepage. Silage seepage contains high concentrations of nutrients and acid that can increase the levels of ammonia, nitrate and iron in the water. Seepage can enter water bodies by runoff or percolation through the soil.

When selecting a storage location, investigate soil, topography and water table status to determine the environmental risk to nearby water. The storage facility should be well away from watercourses and flood plains, and more than 100 m (330 ft) from a water source. It should also be placed where the natural drainage is away from nearest surface water body.

Make sure all parts of your storage, including the lining, are in good condition. Concrete floors and walls should have no cracks. Silage covers can be designed to remove rainfall away from silage so water cannot seep into or under the silage.

Silage moisture should be lower than 65% to minimize seepage. Prevent any seepage from reaching water sources. It is best to have a professionally designed and well-maintained seepage collection system. Prepare a plan to deal with the collected seepage on an annual basis; the seepage can be applied to your crop land.

Silaging produces a palatable, nutritional feed supply.
Courtesy of ARD, AgTech Centre - ARD

Silage Gases and Odours

Silaging produces greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide and sometimes oxides of nitrogen. Silage odour may be offensive to some people. Locate silaging facilities downwind from nearby residences.
Back to Chapter 5 - Post-Harvest Crop Storage
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This document is maintained by Jennifer Rutter.
This information published to the web on November 1, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on October 30, 2017.