Silage inoculants: are they profitable? A case study of wholeplant corn silage

In Figure 1 the possible profit obtained with different energy contents compared with non treated silages is shown. The profit is calculated from a higher production of milk, the savings in concentrate and the sum of both(1).
calendar icon 13 February 2009
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The functions become positive (profitability) when the difference between the energy content in treated silage and non-treated silage exceeds around 0.1 MJ/ kg DM. It is also noticeable that an energy loss for a lower energy content than this value (0.1 MJ/ kg DM) would cause financial losses (at the prices for the calculation) of about 3.80 – 5.20 €/ ton silage when the energy content decrease from 0.0 to - 0.1 MJ/ kg DM.

In Figure 2 an analysis taking into account variations in milk or concentrate prices was made. The analysis was conducted only for a cost of 1.75 €/ ton treated silage.

As a logical consequence of the increasing prices, the profitability in the use of silage inoculants increases. When the milk prices ascend from 0.30 to 0.45 €/ liter milk, the increase in the profit caused by the milk increase ranges from 2.27 to 4.15 €/ ton. An increase in the concentrate price per ton (from 175 up to 375 €/ per ton corresponding to 17.5 to 3.75 ¢/ kg) would improve the profitability per ton from 1.14 to 4.15 €. This means, the higher the milk quality (which is possible to reach feeding good silage) and the higher the price of the concentrate (which is increasing markedly nowadays), the better the profitability in the use of silage inoculants.

An important aspect which should be remarked is that the calculations were carried out for 1.75 €/ treated ton, which is relatively high. Lower costs per treated ton of silage would improve these results even more. The following Figure (Figure 3) shows what would happen if the costs per treated ton were to vary. The functions are calculated taking into account the sum of the milk production increase and the savings in concentrate. The differences are always related to silage without treatment or treated with silage inoculants which do not improve the energy content.

It is shown that an energy increase in the silage higher than 0.04 MJ/ kg DM would be already profitable for the producer taking into account the losses/ gains of energy. If the cost per treated ton increases to 2.00 €, the profitability point would be reached only after 0.16 MJ/ kg DM. No changes in the energy content (0.00 MJ/ kg DM) or a decrease of 0.10 MJ/ kg DM would place the economical losses in about 1.00 to 4.00 € and 4.5 to 6.5 € per ton for a cost of treatment of 0.50 and 2.00 €/ treated ton.

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