Corn plants absorb nitrogen available in the soil, but they are not able to use it during dry periods; thus, nitrate levels can be very high at the base of the plant. You can reduce the nitrate level by not harvesting the base of the stem (cut 30 cm high). If heavy rain occurred, avoid ensiling in the next five days, since corn plants may become engorged with nitrate.
Harvest at the ideal moisture level
Harvest your silage at the appropriate moisture content to obtain the best possible fermentation (usually between 60 and 70% humidity). After three weeks of fermentation, the nitrate levels should decrease by 25 to 75%. We always recommend using an inoculant to improve fermentation. Do not add urea or UAN in silages to reduce the risk of toxicity.
Gas formation in the silo
Nitrogen dioxide, or NO2, an asphyxiating gas, is formed during ensiling and in the following days. Exposure to this gas affects lung tissue and can cause death by asphyxiation (choking). It is important to take the following precautions:
- Follow all procedures and recommended precautions in case of this dangerous gas;
- Leave the blower on when you need to go inside the silo;
- If you experience throat irritation, seek immediate medical attention;
- Close the doors between the silo and barn so animals are not affected;
- Ventilate the silo room;
- Avoid entering the silo for two weeks after harvest.