Matt Akins, Extension Dairy Heifer Management Specialist
Marshfield Agricultural Research Station
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
3:01 – Total Time
0:19 – Wax to seal silage packs
0:31 – Safer, easier
0:56 – How it works
1:16 – Still expensive
1:47 – Custom applicators
2:20 – It’s an experiment
2:39 – No plastic needed to cover bunks
2:50 – Lead out
Sevie Kenyon: An alternative to plastic and tires on big bunk silos. We’re visiting today with Matt Akins Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station. Matt you’ve got an interesting project out here with your silage bunks can you describe it for us briefly?
Matt Akins: We were looking at alternative ways to cover bunker silos; we’re looking at using some wax mixtures to cover the silage instead of plastic and tires.
Sevie Kenyon: Matt, why would this particular alternative be attractive?
Matt Akins: So the main reason that we feel that it would be attractive is that it makes it a lot easier for feeding of the silage for the producer you don’t need to peel the plastic back every few days, it’s a lot safer for the workers, plus you don’t even need to peel it back you can feed it right with the silage itself so it makes it a lot more convenient.
Sevie Kenyon: Matt can you describe for us, what this wax looks like and how it works?
Matt Akins: Yeah, so it’s a special type of wax that we’re working with. It’s got a small amount of flour that we add to it to help bind it and then we melt it in a heated tanker that’s equipped with a pump and a sprayer that we then use to spray it on the experimental bunkers.
Sevie Kenyon: How will it compare for cost to using plastic and tires?
Matt Akins: At this point, it’s not really cost effective we’re just kind of doing the preliminary studies with it, but we would think in the future as you can do larger volumes of wax and we can modify the wax type and the mixtures, we can get more cost effective to the point where it would be similar to an oxygen barrier plastic.
Sevie Kenyon: Matt some of these commercial silage bunkers are large, what would it look like to apply a liquid wax to something like that?
Matt Akins: It would have to definitely be scaled up quite a bit; similar to a concrete spraying rig. We’d have to assemble probably several years in the future, probably at least four to five years until that might come about; quite a bit of engineering, but it would have to be a large scale sprayer that could accomplish the task in a few hours. What we’re thinking is, after the silage is packed you’d have a custom sprayer unit come in and apply the mixture and spray cover on the piles.
Sevie Kenyon: Matt, what are the drawbacks you’ve already noticed with this system?
Matt Akins: This first test of the cover we’ve noticed that the wax has gotten some cracks in it. We need to modify how we apply it, probably a little bit thicker cover so it doesn’t crack; we need to modify the wax itself, the type of wax.
Sevie Kenyon: Matt is there any potential environmental benefit to this?
Matt Akins: There’s a definite environmental benefit, most of the plastic will end up in landfills; at this point with the wax cover none of it will end up in the landfill. So that’s a definite environmental benefit.
Sevie Kenyon: We’ve visiting today with Matt Akins Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station and I’m Sevie Kenyon.