The past week has seen farmers across many parts of the country move to secure their first cut of pit silage.

The good spell of weather in most parts of the country over the weekend left ideal conditions for farmers to secure quality silage in either a pit or in bales.

After a slow enough start to the growing season, grass growth picked up significantly over the past two weeks and most farmers who have cut silage are reporting that a good crop of silage was secured.

The next six weeks will see the majority of farmers across Ireland make their first cut of silage and it is hoped that weather conditions will prove favorable.

As farmers know all too well, making silage when contending with wet weather makes the job a lot more challenging.

High-quality silage

In light of recent world events and volatile grain markets, there has been a massive emphasis placed on encouraging farmers to secure as much high-quality silage as possible.

In light of this, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, recently announced a scheme for beef and sheep farmers that would reward them with a €100/ha payment for all silage cut up to a maximum of 10ha.

This would result in individual farmers being eligible to receive up to a maximum of €1,000.

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of speculation on how much it will cost to get an acre of silage cut, lifted and drawn into the pit.

Agriland contacted a number of pit-silage contractors across the country to see what price they would be charging this year.

Speculated prices

As always, quotes per acre vary significantly depending on a number of factors such as the part of the country, the amount of land for cutting and the quantity of grass on the cut.

With that said, most contractors suggested that between €120 and €150/ac plus VAT (at 13%) would be a fair indication of where prices would likely be this summer.

Of the contractors contacted by Agriland, those offering the wagon-silage option were found to be at the lower end of this scale on price whereas those offering the precision-cut option were at the higher end of this scale on price.

At a rate of €150/ac, this would leave a crop of silage cut, raked, lifted and left in the pit at €170/ac. Where a self-propelled harvester is used, the rate generally covers four silage trailers. Extra trailers are generally hired in at an additional rate per hour.

Most contractors tend to take into account pits where lighter cuts of silage are taken and reflect this in the price per acre.

Additional services such as tedding-out grass are generally charged separately.

Given the volatility of fuel prices currently, these prices may well fluctuate as the year progresses.

It is important to point out that the above prices are merely the findings from a sample of silage contractors across the country contacted by Agriland and some contractors may be charging less, while others may be charging more.