Every year in spring or early summer when grass growth is at its optimum, or Maize is ready for harvesting, farmers around New Zealand are making silage for winter feed. This is a valuable source of sustenance for their animals and storing it safely and securely has now become a whole lot better with Secure Covers.
As the process of silage has continually evolved over the decades, the use of the motor industries waste product has never been questioned so the worlds farms have continued being the dumping ground for used tyres.
Whilst designing a large silage bunker, Craig Lipscombe, owner of construction company Designmax, started researching an alternative solution to tyres and happened upon the Secure Covers system which was developed by UK company Thomas and Fontaine.
Now in extensive use throughout the UK, US & Europe, Secure Covers are constructed from a knitted, high density polyethylene (HDPE), specifically designed to withstand 150kph winds.
The clever system requires no tyres due to its rough texture, which instead uses simple aerodynamics, rather than weight, to create down-force – essentially, the harder the wind blows, the more the Secure Cover forces down on the plastic sheet.
NZ farmers are also now finding that not only are they far easier, cleaner & simpler option to tyres, they also prevent animals, rodents & birds, especially pukekos, from damaging the silage. These pests often create holes in the plastic sheet, which lets in oxygen and moisture ruining the silage.
‘Making silage isn’t a cheap process’ Lipscombe says, ‘so its vital NZ farmers ensure they maximise their production & quality and minimize any wastage’
Secure Covers are far tougher than the polythene sheet so even stock can walk over them without doing any damage.
The other key component of the system is the Gravel Bags, which are made from the same material, filled with pea metal and tied off with supplied cable ties. These tube shaped bags are placed end on end around the perimeter of each Secure Cover, creating a perfect seal and ensuring no oxygen can enter the stack. They are a far better alternative than concrete posts or tyres for holding down the edges and can be easily stored on a pallet until next silage season.
The system really comes into its own when used in conjunction with free standing bunkers. These purpose built bunkers are often quite high making tyres difficult & unsafe to install, let alone storing them when not in use. Secure Covers create a simple modern solution which turns the normal unsightly bunker area, into something that is functional & very aesthetically pleasing.
The Secure Covers are available in a range of sizes and are guaranteed UV stable for at least seven years. Secure Covers & Gravel Bags to cover a 12m wide by 30m long silage stack, will cost approximately $2300 plus freight & GST.
Use of the Secure Covers system ensures feed quality is locked in, prevents bird & rodent damage and makes stack management easier.
Secure Cover silage covers are a common feature in the UK and US and have proven popular with local Farmers in the short time they’ve been available in New Zealand. The polyethylene UV-resistant netting is placed over a standard polythene sheet and is held down along the seams and edges using Secure Gravel bags. These bags are made from the same material and are filled with pea metal.
The dense, strong nature of the knitted cover places it close to the polythene’s surface, reducing wind lift and minimising unwanted air intrusion which damages silage quality.
Sourced from UK company Thomas and Fontaine, the covers have established a reputation for their ability to withstand Force 7 storm conditions on the Orkney Islands through winter in over 150kph winds. In New Zealand because our high UV levels, as well as wind, can reduce the longevity of plastic based products, the Secure Covers systems comes with a 10 year UV stability guarantee.
Craig Lipscombe from Secure Covers says bird and rodent damage is also minimised when using Secure Covers. Pukekos are a particular nuisance.
“One of the first covers we supplied was for a farmer whose whole stack had been devastated by pukekos picking holes in the plastic. The dense, tough polyethylene of the Secure Covers is impossible for pukekos and pests to penetrate,”says Lipscombe.
While some farmers may prefer to continue using the tyres they have accumulated over the years, the tough nature of the Secure Cover means tyres can be thrown onto the stack without fear of ripping a hole in it. However, the use of tyres introduces other issues, such as Hardware Disease, that can be harming your stock.
The Secure Gravel Bags offer a flexible alternative to tyres, being easily filled with pea metal and tied off with supplied cable ties. The bags are a particularly appealing alternative to concrete posts for holding down stack sides, and unlike tyres can be easily stored on a pallet when not in use.
A full Secure Cover system for a typical 12m by 30m silage stack costs around $2700 +GST, the polythene below can be reused and covering it will be quicker without messy tyres.
Article supplied by Cotake NZ Ltd