Life on the Wild Side

As our understanding of the biology around dairy farming continues to improve, I am amazed by the number of farmers that consider a high quality silage inoculant to be “foo foo dust”. To me, these farmers live on the wild side. Let me explain. Wild bacteria are present on plants for the primary purpose of destroying the plant. They are waiting for the plant to die so that they can attack. They see plant sugars as a ready source of energy to help them reproduce. Left alone, they will degrade the plant sugar making CO2. When we disrupt the wild bacteria by removing air from the forage (packing and covering), they go into “squirrel mode”. They pack away some lactic acid to be used as an energy source later. Generally, wild bacteria will make equal amounts of lactic acid, acetic acid, and CO2. But what we need to preserve forage is high lactic acid which has the strength to lower the forage pH and stop the wild bacteria.

AFP adds 4 specialized bacteria to our products which allows them to work across a wide pH range. These bacteria have been selected to principally produce lactic acid. We also apply them at a rate that has been shown to out-compete wild bacteria. However, the key in all of silage preservation is providing food for the specialized bacteria. AFP provides our bacteria with a food source which comes from breaking down complex carbohydrates with our proprietary enzymes. Our goal is to make high lactic acid (> 5%) while keeping the wild bacteria from producing excess acetic acid and CO2.

About the Author

Lawrence Jones