• Agriculture Technology
  • Aug 06, 2020

Tap Into Tech for Silage Harvest

Silage harvester and a truck at silage harvest
There are probably a number of qualities you’re looking for in your corn silage crop, including adequate nutrient and moisture levels as well as optimal tonnage. One way you can help ensure optimal ROI and yield potential is by using the appropriate ag technology to manage your corn silage harvest.

View imagery, spot trends

In my area of eastern Kansas, we faced a challenging drought year a couple years ago. At one point, we had an approximate 20-inch rainfall deficit. Looking at in-season satellite imagery from the R7® Tool, one of my colleagues saw that about two weeks after tassel, one farmer’s cornfield was trending down quickly because of inadequate moisture and/or inadequate nutrient uptake. He was able to advise the farmer to flag those poorer areas and chop them quickly for silage, leaving those parts of the field that were doing better for grain that he needed to fulfill contracts. Because the farmer could get a good price on his silage, he came out pretty well, despite a moisture shortfall.

In-season imagery can also help you determine areas of the field that would benefit from a stalk nitrate test to see if your plants are taking up adequate nitrogen, or if you are over- or under-fertilizing so you can adjust applications appropriately.
The biomass levels of your corn silage are also important in gauging crop health. With the R7 Field Monitoring Tool, you can measure your fields’ biomass, which indicates what fields are trending up or down. Then the R7 Tool pinpoints areas with low biomass and that are drying down fast so you can harvest those first to retain as much quality as possible. 

Gain optimal quality

With corn silage, getting plants to half-milk line, where the corn is at about 60 to 70 percent moisture, will give you optimal yield and quality potential. After that, plants will start drying out and leaves will start falling off. Using the R7 Field Forecasting Tool, your agronomist can stage the crop to achieve optimal quality. For example, the tool can indicate what day the field is expected to near R6. Harvest should fall one to two weeks prior to this growth stage. The tool can estimate biomass accumulation, drydown and the moisture percentage of the grain as well.  

Future enhancements

WinField United is developing additional tools to help farmers achieve optimal harvest, including one that will identify normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) images by date and crop maturity prior to tassel. This will alert farmers to what yield levels are projected to be in different parts of the field so they can determine what areas should be cut for silage and what areas should be left for grain. This capability has the potential to replace yield checks performed by hand.
Talk with your agronomist about how using technology can help you harvest your corn silage at the optimal times to achieve the quality and tonnage you want.
© 2020 WinField United. R7® and WinField are trademarks WinField United.

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