The 2020 Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition is in full swing with the sampling of the silage entries scheduled to take place from mid June. The competition is known for highlighting overall silage quality in the South African agricultural industry and for helping producers to evaluate their own silage-making practices and improve their silage quality.

Every year, entrants get a chance to evaluate the composition and quality of their own silage samples. Detailed reports received upon completion of the competition, allows them to adjust their silage-making strategy and enhance their animal feed. The ultimate aim is to increase overall production throughout the agricultural sector and the growth of the competition in terms of the number of entries, certainly attests to the entire industry’s commitment to improved silage production.

However, this competition wouldn’t have been able to gain such traction over the last few years had it not been for the competition’s sponsors who graciously continue to offer their expertise, time and industry experience to better silage producing standards across the board.

Name sponsor: Santam Agriculture

Gerhard Diedericks, head of Santam Agriculture, says all the specialists who have been involved in the competition over the years, such as silage experts John Bax, Prof Robin Meeske and silage consultant Richardt Venter, have helped to determine the efficiency levels of various factors such as compaction and the chop length of feed particles.

“If we improve the approximately ten million tons of silage made annually by only a few percentage points, we can fill farmers’ pockets with millions in increased milk and meat production without having to increase production costs. This competition benefits the entire agricultural value chain by increasing farmers’ sales and by unlocking value for brokers.

“It was an easy decision for us to take on the role of main sponsor of the Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition. We support our clients through key areas such as risk management and help them to realise the importance of silage in various production processes, thereby helping them to increase the quality and nutritional value of their silage and broaden their technical skillset,” says Diedericks. Read more about what Gerhard Diedericks has to say about this competition, here.

Pannar Seed

Pannar Seed agronomist, Grant Pringle, says that Pannar Seed has been sponsoring the Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition since 2018. Pannar Seed is a dynamic South African seed company with the research and development of grain and oilseed crops as one of its main focuses.

“We jumped at the sponsorship opportunity when it became available to raise the profile of Pannar Seed and our excellent silage hybrids in this niche market.

“Good quality silage is a valuable asset in feedlots, dairies and other intensive livestock systems – it is beneficial to rumen health and boosts feed intake and productivity. The cost of silage production (crop, harvest and feed-out) can run from R25 000 to R35 000/ha.

“The best way to ensure enterprise profitability is to maximise both yield and forage quality per hectare. Silage making can be a challenge, but when the entire process is done well and efficiently, it can be one the more cost-effective sources of stored feed,” he explains.

According to Grant, maize hybrid selection is one of the three factors that affect final silage quality and yield, the others being the environment and management practices. This is where Pannar Seed has the greatest opportunity to add value to the process and partner with silage-making customers.

“No silage maize hybrid will perform optimally if not selected and used for the particular production conditions for which it was bred. This fact is proven by the Agricultural Research Council’s Eastern National Hybrid Trials that are conducted on an annual basis. Typically these trials demonstrate  a 30% difference, on average, between the yields of the top-performing and lowest-performing maize grain hybrids within a particular season.

“You need to ensure that the hybrid you are planting has a track record of performance within your local environment. A hybrid with fluctuating performance between seasons may not be the best choice. Consistent performance will indicate adaptation to the local climate. The other aspect that you need to consider is the maturity class of the hybrid; it must be able to attain maximum yield within the timeframe that you have available,” Grant adds.

Kemin Industries

According to Kemin Industries representatives, Fanie du Plessis and Leandri Strydom, the company has been actively involved in helping farmers make their own silage for some time now.

“Over the last few years we have entered various clients in the Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition in order to better their end product and to give them the opportunity to measure their silage-making practices against those of other entrants.

“We consider this competition to be important because it drives awareness when it comes to silage quality and places emphasis on the practices that need to employed to ensure that silage is of exceptional quality,” says Fanie.

By becoming involved in the competition, Kemin Industries helps to drive awareness of the different types of sources that can be used to make silage and how a producer can better his silage-making practices by utilising the end results.

Kemin Industries believes in making a difference in the world around us. We do this through providing excellent advice and quality service delivery to all of our clients which ultimately helps them to better their silage quality. Kemin Industries knows that silage is a very important food source for ruminants in South Africa and as a company we are fortunate to also have a strong technical team that enjoys and takes pride in helping our clients in reaching their silage production goals,” Fanie adds.

Strapping & Profile

Heinrich Meyer of Strapping & Profile says they and Rani Plast sponsored some of the prizes of the 2019 Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition and look forward to doing it again this year. “We gave the winners and those that placed second and third in all categories, bunker covers as well as gift bags to introduce them to our product range. It is important to us that consumers understand what impact great products can have on the production of quality silage,” explains Heinrich.

“Silage quality directly impacts farmers’ milk or meat production. Poor quality silage can result in financial strain, which is why the quality of your silage needs to be measured and improved upon to ensure that you meet your livestock’s nutritional needs. By producing high-quality silage a farmer can save on winter feed. It also gives you an additional source of protein and other nutrients.

“Production relating to livestock is largely dependent on the animals’ feeding programme. The quality of your silage has the potential to help you achieve your desired production goals,” he adds.

Nutribase

Nutribase is an importer and distributor of speciality feed additives for the animal feed industry in Southern Africa.

Jaco Faasen, a product manager at Nutribase, says that the company’s involvement in the Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition started four years ago. However, in 2019 the company decided to step in as an official sponsor of the competition as well.

“The smallest improvement in the quality of your silage can have an impact on your production. However, the same is true if your silage is of low quality. For this reason, it is important to focus on all aspects that have to do with silage production to ensure that you improve both the quality and quantity of your silage,” Jaco says.

Better quality silage ultimately leads to higher profits. Jaco says that Nutribase is proud to be a supplier of top-quality products that ensure the production of quality silage. “I encourage farmers to make use of this opportunity by entering the competition. They can get great insight from the individualised silage report that is based off one’s own silage sample, enabling them to improve next year’s harvest,” he concludes.

Hurwitz Farming

Jarren Hurwitz of Hurwitz Farming says that the competition has taught them a lot over the years and has significantly added to their skill. “The Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition has certainly played a role in helping us to make high-quality silage, both for our own consumption on our farm as well as for customers through our contracting division,” he explains.

That is why the decision to come on board as a competition sponsor in 2020, was an easy one for them. The sponsorship involves their contracting arm, Greenstar Contrators.

Producing silage is a significant part and focus of their business. Their dedicated silage contracting division operates countrywide for most of the year, making silage from crops such as maize, feed sorghum, grass, oats and wheat. “With such a strong focus on and footprint in the silage industry, it is a strategic decision for us to be involved with silage initiatives such as this competition. It is also important for the growth and sustainability of the industry as a whole that silage-making techniques and technologies are improved,” he concludes. – Claudi Nortjé, Plaas Media

For more information about the 2020 competition, email deidre@plaasmedia.co.za. Entries for winter and summer grains have already closed. See the poster below for more information regarding the 2020 silage diary.