For many years, the traditional means of growing silage has been using a small scale ranching operation based on the surrounding arid hills. The tradition is one of the most rewarding aspects of the farming sector, and although production levels are nowhere near to commercial production levels, they are certainly good enough to provide the local economy with an abundance of raw ingredients and income through the sale of local produce. The development of some small-scale farmers into successful silage wrap producers has seen this traditional production method being taken up by large scale commercial farmers, who can supply the local market with some of the best quality beef and pork available in the world.
Despite the progress made by the farming industry, there is still much work to be done to improve the environment and ensure greater efficiency. One such area of improvement comes from the organic farming sector. While many traditional farmers have been encouraged to move towards organic farming and more ecologically friendly products, the quality of the beef and pork products sold to consumers remains largely unimpressive. The use of feed additives, antibiotics and growth hormones is rampant, but this has led to several unhealthy beef and pork products. By encouraging farmers to use sustainable techniques such as no-chemical fertilisers and natural fertilisers, and bioplastics, this effort to improve environmental quality has been met with great success.
Encouraging farmers to use eco-friendly products has also meant that silage is now much more readily available for consumers. Many shoppers are now looking to buy organic food, and the demand for locally produced bales has led to the traditional growers struggling to keep up with demand. The introduction of bale wrapping has led to the production of quality bales being more readily available to consumers, which has helped stimulate the economy. By improving the availability of the silage wrap, has not only encouraged local production but has also helped to raise the quality and consistency of the product to suit the requirements of consumers.
While some farmers have welcomed the introduction of baled or silage wrap, others believe that the clear wrap strategy attempts to take advantage of good land corners. Forage farmers find that the vast majority of their income is generated through selling the baled product rather than processing it. These small producers tend to suffer financially when sales of these new products do not continue to grow at the same rate as traditional forage. By introducing a clear wrap to their production areas, the companies can capture the baled grasses at a lower price per ton, and this helps to maintain a consistent revenue stream.
Another concern for many small farmers is getting the same quality of silage wrap that they receive from the larger companies at a lower cost. This is not always the case. While it may be possible to source the same material from specialist suppliers at a lower cost, there are often considerable differences in quality between suppliers. There is also the potential that they could provide lower quantities.
Farmers who favour the traditional method of silage wrapping believe that by using modern technology, they can improve their quality and reduce their costs. However, those who favour barrier properties are likely to look for suppliers that offer a consistent source of high-quality raw material and consistent handling and packaging practices. Forage and hay farmers who rely on high moisture levels within their crop to encourage root growth will require a more consistent supply of silage wrap and barriers. A high-quality specialist supplier should also offer access to a range of barrier properties such as aluminium oxide, potassium bentonite clay and chalk to help maintain nutritional levels and inhibit mould growth.