The winners in the seventh Plaas Media Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition were announced during a virtual presentation in Centurion, Gauteng. Sponsors, organisers and members of the sampling team attended a function at Plaas Media’s offices in Centurion on 21 October 2020 for the special video presentation showcasing the competition and this year’s winners. During the presentation Simpson & Son Farming was crowned the 2020 Silage King.

Lees dit in Afrikaans.

The video can be viewed on the Plaas TV YouTube channel using this link:

Competition overview

This year’s competition exceeded all expectations, with a total of 84 entries consisting of 56 silage bunkers and 23 silo bags. A total of 63 maize entries, six feed sorghum entries and 14 oats entries were received.

This year also saw the introduction of a test category for silage bales, which yielded five entries comprising three maize bales, one feed sorghum bale and one lucerne bale. While this category will remain a test category for the foreseeable future until a protocol is in place, the organisers felt it fitting to recognise the highest placed entry in the test category.

This year’s sampling team consisted of students from three universities who took samples under the guidance of Erna Mostert, assistant competition coordinator at AgSci Unlimited. The students were Matthew Kinghorn of the University of the Free State, Pieter Uys of the University of Stellenbosch, and Timothy Chilemba of the University of Pretoria. Samples were analysed by Labworld.

These results were checked and verified by Prof Robin Meeske of the Outeniqua Research Farm. Meeske, who is also the chairperson of the competition’s protocol committee, remarked during the presentation that the standard of this year’s entries was very high and a clear indication that silage quality is improving.

“One of the aspects that stood out was the fact that more producers are cutting their silage at the right stage, especially when it comes to maize. Entries are increasingly getting closer to the ideal dry matter (DM) content,” he said. “Looking at the 2019 entries, 70% of the DM content was between 30 and 40%, with optimal DM content being 35%. This year a total of 79% of entries were at this level. This is very encouraging indeed.”

This year’s sponsors and participating companies

Santam Agriculture was once again the main sponsor of the competition. They have been involved since the inception of the competition and has already confirmed the continuance of their sponsorship in 2021. Hanlie Kroese, manager of strategic partnerships at Santam, said the insurer is proud of its association with the competition. “This is one of our outstanding sponsored projects and plays a central role in Santam’s goal to be more than just an insurer. The data generated by the competition adds enormous value to the industry and presents us with a very clear picture of how scientific producers approach their farming enterprises.”

This year’s prize sponsors were Kemin, Pannar Seed, Nutribase, Strapping & Profile, and Hurwitz Farming. Valuable prizes were given to all the category winners and included seed sponsored by Pannar Seed, inoculants sponsored by Nutribase, silage covers sponsored by Strapping & Profile, backpack sprayers for Kemin’s top-layer application, as well as the manufacturing of grass silage in a silo bag for the winner, by Hurwitz Farming.

During the presentation Heinrich Meyer of Strapping & Profile also announced that Rani Plast, the supplier of the silage covers given to the category winners, will be sponsoring one lucky silage competition entrant to visit its factory in Finland next year. A lucky draw took place during the event and Greg Todd of Marshmead was the lucky winner of this fully paid trip to Finland.

Companies that entered their clients or their own silage this year were AFGRI Animal Feeds, BAG Budissa Agroserv, Hurwitz Farming, Kemin, Meadow Feeds Natal, Meadow Feeds Paarl, Nutribase, Pannar Seed, TWK Agri, Sparta Baby Beef, Sparta Beef, Bovasol, Bergstroom Boerderye, Strapping & Profile and Vosstoffel (Pty) Ltd. In the test category entries came from Saxeni Agric, Burger Family Trust and Tomfer Boerdery.

Lynette Louw, chief executive officer of Plaas Media, said it is encouraging that so many companies took part in this year’s competition, despite the circumstances the country found itself in. “An even more encouraging fact is that the same companies support us year after year. This is certainly a sign of trust in the competition’s protocol and results, and also the value it adds to the industry. Silage is an integral component of a livestock producer’s fodder flow and it is in the livestock industry’s best interests to employ good silage practices.”

Richardt Venter of Agsci Unlimited, the competition co-ordinator, added that the competition offers an objective evaluation of silage and that the reports generated in the process allow farmers to improve their silage and their silage management practices. “In this regard it is very important to realise that a small input can make a huge difference,” he concluded.

From the left is Gerhard Engelbrecht of Pannar Seed, Heinrich Meyer of Strapping & Profile, Mia Steyn of Kemin Industries, Dr EIrisa Taljaard of Labworld, Leandri Strydom of Kemin Industries, Hanlie Kroese of Santam, and Richardt Venter of Agsci Unlimited

Announcement of the winners

The winners were announced by Emil Pretorius, manager of business development at Santam.

Feed sorghum winners

  • Category winner: Hurwitz Farming (Pty) Ltd, Jarren Hurwitz (silo bag entered by themselves). Hurwitz Farming also won this category in 2019.
  • Second place: Winterstorm Investments, Marcu van Rensburg (bunker entered by TWK Agri).
  • Third place: Vosstoffel (Pty) Ltd, Jaco de Vos (bunker entered by themselves).

Oats silage winners

  • Category winner: Groenwei Boerdery, Bull van Rensburg (bun/drive-over pile entered by AFGRI Animal Feeds).
  • Second place: Waplaas Boerdery, Johan Wessels (silo bag entered by BAG Budissa Agroserv).
  • Third place: De Draay Boerdery, Awie Erasmus (bun/drive-over pile entered by Meadow Feeds Natal).

Maize silage winners

  • Category winner: Simpson & Son Farming, Shane Simpson (bunker entered by Meadow Feeds Natal).
  • Second place: Burnview (Pty) Ltd, Hayden Stokes (bunker entered by Pannar Seed).
  • Third place: Diamond Duo Properties, Juan Helberg (bun/drive-over pile entered by Nutribase).

Test category for bales

  • Highest placed bale: Wrapped lucerne bale of Emje Ferreira of Saxeni Agric.

The 2020 Silage King

The overall winner in this year’s competition is Simpson & Son Farming of Shane Simpson in KwaZulu-Natal. Their silage bunker was entered by Meadow Feeds Natal and achieved an overall score of 87,6. According to Prof Meeske various aspects of this silage stood out, but those that stood head and shoulders above the rest were overall compaction, top-layer compaction, silage stability, high starch content, high energy content and excellent preservation. The fact that were in tenth position overall last year, and came out tops this year, is a clear indication of the competition’s value in respect of improved silage practices, Meeske said.

Shane’s son recently died tragically after a veld fire and the Simpsons are currently going through a trying time. After the announcement of the winners, Pretorius expressed sympathy on behalf of all the sponsors and the organisers.

The 2021 competition

Entries for the 2021 Santam Agriculture National Silage Competition will open on 1 January 2021. Keep an eye on Plaas Media’s platforms for more information and be sure to read the December 2020 edition of Veeplaas, in which the silage competition and data will be featured. – Press release, Plaas Media