Our friend Eugene T. Gabriel is very excited about a German-made rice and corn harvesting machine that his crew of fabricators has modified so that it can also harvest and shred forage at the same time. Gabriel is the president of Central Isabela Agri Manufacturing Corporation (CIAMC) which has been developing practical farming implements.
What excites him is the opportunity to make money while providing cheap and nutritious feed for livestock that include beef and dairy cattle, carabaos, goats, sheep, pigs and others. Because the forage harvester can harvest a big quantity in just a few hours of operation, Eugene believes he can make a lot of silage for sale to livestock raisers. The modified machine is being further field tested to make sure it meets the standard set by a certifying body based in UP Los Baños.
There are imported forage harvesting machines but they cost a fortune. If the modified rice harvester can perform satisfactorily, cutting the forage and shredding the same at the same time, it will be a big boost to commercial silage production.
Silage, by the way, is grass and other green forage that are fermented in airtight containers that could be plastic drums, sacks lined with plastic, or a trench in the ground. Diluted molasses is sprinkled on the materials to enhance fermentation. Some also add beneficial microorganisms. What is important is that the forage materials are not exposed to air.
Silage making is not new. In fact, as a young man more than fifty years ago, we used to make silage in our veterinarian cousin’s ranch. Although silage-making is an old technique, not many farmers have adopted it for one reason or another. Maybe, they are not aware of the benefits of making silage for livestock feed.
Actually, silage offers a lot of benefits for animal raisers. It can ensure continuous supply of feed year-round. That is because silage can be stored for long periods without spoiling.
Animals love to eat silage because it is very palatable. Fermentation makes its nutrients more easily absorbed by the animals. It has a very desirable sweetish smell. Fermentation is very simple. Molasses diluted with a little water is simply applied to the silage materials. As early as 15 days from ensiling, the materials can already be fed to the animals. But it can also be stored for even more than one year so that the animals are assured of feed, especially during the hot summer months when the grasses turn brown.
There are a lot of materials in the farm that can be made into silage. A favorite of Eugene is corn that is harvested when they are 75 to 80 days old. That’s when their ears are in the milk stage. The stover and ears are cut and shredded into small pieces, sprayed with molasses and then placed in an air-tight container. Because even the ears are included in the shredding, the silage has a high nutritive content.
Pioneer-Hibred, one of the leading seed companies, has a variety that is highly recommended for making silage. It is tall and produces wide leaves so that it produces a lot of biomass. But even the ordinary varieties will do. Corn plants that are overtaken by dry spell which could not possibly produce a decent grain yield can be salvaged and made into silage.
One very good candidate for silage-making is Pakchong 1 or the so-called Super Napier. This is a very fast-growing variety that is also very nutritious. This can be harvested every 45 days.
Even rice straw can be included in the silage mix. And according to Eugene Gabriel, their modified forage harvester can collect the rice straw scattered by the rice harvester for shredding and making into silage.
Agricom, mother company of CIAMC, is collaborating with the Isabela State University’s cattle and buffalo dairy project headed by Dr. Nilo Padilla. Silage made by Agricom is now being fed to the dairy animals at the university. They will soon plant corn and other forage crops at ISU for silage making. Of course, the modified harvesting machine will be used in the project to further test its performance.
Those interested to contact Eugene T. Gabriel can call or text him at: 0908-890-2474 or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.