The use of used tyres to protect winter feed is fast becoming a thing of the past thanks to a new silage cover product called Secure Covers.
Now in extensive use throughout the UK, US and Europe, Secure Covers are constructed from a knitted, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), specifically designed to withstand 150kph winds.
The clever system eliminates the need for tyres due to its rough texture, using simple aerodynamics rather than weight to create downforce. Essentially, the harder the wind blows, the more the Secure Cover forces down on the plastic sheet.
While 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.
“Making silage isn’t a cheap process so it’s vital New Zealand farmers ensure they maximise their production and quality and minimise any wastage.”
Craig says New Zealand farmers are finding that Secure Covers are not only far easier, cleaner and simpler to use than tyres, they also prevent animals, rodents and birds, especially pukeko, from damaging the silage.
“These pests often create holes in the plastic sheet, which lets in oxygen and moisture, ruining the silage.
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,” says Craig.
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 and unsafe to install. There is also the issue of storing tyres when not in use.
Secure Covers create a simple, modern solution which turns the normal unsightly bunker area into something that is functional and aesthetically-pleasing.”
The Secure Covers are available in a range of sizes and are guaranteed UV stable for at least seven years. Secure Covers and Gravel Bags to cover a 12m wide by 30m long silage stack will cost approximately $2300 plus freight and GST.