A record number of entries were received in the sixth Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition, which officially opened for entries in March this year. The competition is presented by Plaas Media’s magazines, Veeplaas and Stockfarm, with the support of the name sponsor, Santam Agriculture.

This year the competition enjoys additional support from three prize sponsors, namely PANNAR Seed, Strapping & Profile Manufacturers (Rani) and Nutribase. NTT Toyota Barberton sponsored a Toyota Hilux bakkie for the sampling process.

This year the following companies entered their clients’ silage bunkers: Grasslands Agriculture, Barnlab, Leading Edge, PANNAR Seed, Kemin Industries, Meadow Feeds, Nutribase, TWK Agri, Budissa Agroservice, Animal Nutrition & Health (ANH), Santam Agriculture, AFGRI Animal Feeds, Biomin Animal Nutrition, Strapping & Profile Manufacturers and Hurwitz Farming.

A record number of entries

A total of 87 entries were received this year – the highest number to date. Even the number of oats silage entries reached a record number, with 15 entries received this year. The remaining entries are made up of seven forage sorghum and 65 maize silage samples.

This year, farmers were entered by 15 companies, with five individual entries also received. Previous winners that will participate once again include Sparta Baby Beef, Hannes and Neels Neethling, Van Greunen Boerdery and Westend Landgoed.

The road ahead

Sampling in the oats category of the competition was completed in April. Late in June, the student team of Waldo Macdonald and Lambert Jacobs of the University of the Free State set off on their next journey to collect samples for the maize silage category.

After all the samples were collected, they were analysed at Labworld. The data obtained from the analyses was processed and compared using various formulae based on the competition protocol, before being sent to Prof Robin Meeske, well-known silage expert and chairperson of the protocol committee, for evaluation. The overall sampling and data processing activities were conducted by the University of the Free State under the watchful eye of silage consultant, Richardt Venter.

The process will be completed this month, after which the top ten finalists will be announced.

Announcing the winners

Where needed, finalists will be visited by the judges, after which the winners will be announced at ALFA in Parys. Every category is judged on its own merit and a winner will be named in each. The overall silage king across all categories, as well as a winner in the schools’ category, will also be announced at ALFA, which will be held at the Afridome in Parys from 17 to 19 September 2019. – Michelle Verster, Stockfarm