Enterprising farmers can look at corn silage production as an alternative source of livelihood.
Corn silage is a fermented, high-moisture, stored fodder, which can be fed to large and small ruminants.
Silage is fermented and stored in a process called ensiling and is usually made from forage grasses, including maize, sorghum, or other cereals. It is a nutritious feed for carabaos as it is a good source of energy and protein.
Commercialization of corn silage for dairy buffaloes has been ongoing and is being implemented by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) with funding support from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD). The project, supported by the Technomart (TM) modality of DOST-PCAARRD, is being implemented in Lupao, Nueva Ecija and involves 5-10 farmer cooperators from the area.
The appropriate age of forage corn at harvest is between 75 and 80 days or when the ear’s seeds has about 2/3 milk-line or the distinct horizontal line that appears near the end of the corn’s kernel. The ears of the corn plants are very good materials because of its high soluble carbohydrates and high-buffering capacity or its ability to neutralize the acid content with little change in pH.
The corn stem and leaves serve as the “rice,” while the ears serve as the “viand.”
The chopped corn plants including the ears are stored in a polyethylene sack with a capacity of 20-30 kg, for about three weeks before marketing or feeding to animals.
The farmer leader of the project, Isagani Cajucom, has proven the potential of corn silage production in the market. During one cycle of planting and harvesting, he produced 54,729 kilograms of corn silage in his two-hectare lot, sold at P191,551,50. It provided him a total net income of P66,661.60 after deducting the cost for labor, planting materials, pesticide and herbicide application, irrigation, materials for chopping, and transportation, among others.
In a span of two years, Cajucom has earned a total net income of P582,475.80 from four cycles of planting and harvesting.
There are four main advantages of corn silage production: (1) it is not season-dependent as it can be done anytime, when there is forage abundance; (2) it does not require sophisticated equipment; (3) the shelf-life and quality of silage remain stable under longer storage time; and (4) it can be prepared easily under small or commercial scale.
The project is also being introduced to corn farmers as it is an opportunity for them to earn more and to fill the feed shortage during the dry season.
Corn silage production for dairy buffaloes is one of the many R&D undertakings supported by PCAARRD in response to its commitment to Outcome One.
Being the frontrunner of the eight major outcomes of DOST, Outcome One seeks to provide science –based know-how and tools that will enable the agriculture sector to achieve global competitiveness.
by Rose Anne K. Mananghaya, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Service