What you see on your bunker or pile face may not always tell the full story. FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) imaging can reveal “hotspots” or areas where feed temperature may affect preservation and feed quality. The FLIR examples below show typical storage situations where heating issues may not always be evident.
Covering the silo is one of the most upopular jobs on a farm. Many times it is rushed and not done properly. In these digital photos, the main silage mass has been covered but there are small areas left uncovered. In the FLIR photos, these areas are shown to be extremely hot (130 – 150°F). The lack of covering allows oxygen into the silage, causing the growth of spoilage microbes, generating heat. This results in losses of dry matter and nutrients, decreasing the feed value of the silage.
Packing the forage well at ensiling is a vital part of silage making. In this bag the low density in the top portion has led to air being trapped in the silage, allowing the growth of yeasts and molds. The FLIR image shows this has resulted in the temperature being almost 50°F higher than the stable silage in the middle of the bag.
This farm uses a de-facer and, although the silage was well-packed and faces/walls were “clean” and straight, the thermal image shows that only the side being fed out is stable. The “walls” are hot due to exposure to air, causing energy and DM losses.
This silage face is tidy and will maintained, but as the FLIR image shows, silage left on a pile to be fed later in the day is undergoing significant heating causing energy and dry matter losses.
Untreated silage was slightly moldy at the surface, as can be seen in the photograph. After removal of a grab sample, the FLIR image showed the extent of heating in the silage just behind the silage surface. The spot temperature recorded on the FLIR is 124°F, while clearly visible are white spots, which the thermograph shows to be at 136°F.
Buchneri 500 treated silage. On a cold day, the surface temperature is around 50°F from comparison with the thermograph. After removal of grab samples, the FLIR image clearly shows the treated silage just beneath the surface is cooler still, at 35 – 37°F.