Sugar beet pulp has the consistency of something like potato peelings and porridge with a sticky almost slimy texture, the dry matter content is relatively low and the material dense. As such it has to be handled and stored carefully in specifically designed silage clamps.
‘Sugar beet pulp doesn’t behave in the clamps like maize or grass silage,’ says William Wilson Business Development Manager for silage clamp and cover specialists, ARK Agriculture Ltd. ‘It has a life of its own, it moves in clamps and certainly doesn’t ‘stack’ like maize’.
Because of its liquid content and mush like property sugar beet pulp will move into any empty spaces in the clamps. It is also often delivered to the clamps hot straight from the factory.
‘This is why a clamp being built or used for the storage of sugar beet pulp should be treated more like a tank for storing liquid. The clamp must have a back wall and the clamp must be as narrow as possible 5-8m maximum - this means the only direction the pulp can move is to the front of the clamps which is where they will be emptied from’.
This will mean building more clamps/clamp walls to achieve a greater capacity adds Mr Wilson, a cost that must be considered in the long term use of pulp.
Height is also critical, unlike maize or grass the highest a sugar beet pulp clamp should be filled is 3 -4m from the base of the clamps with walls the same height or lower.
Walls must be built to stand the extra loading of the pulp. Sloping walls with earth banks are ideal for this purpose.
‘Filling any higher than 3m only adds more pressure causing the pulp to spread further and the face of the stored pulp over 3m becomes incredibly unstable and the clamps hard to empty’.
‘The other point which applies to all silage is the importance of keeping the area of exposed ‘ensiled’ material as small as possible. Losses, especially in high energy crops like beet pulp will soon rack up when they begin to waste at the silage face on a clamp that isn’t being emptied quickly enough’.
Mr Wilson sites research that indicates 15% of potential energy can be lost from silage exposed to oxygen for more than 14 days. Warmer weather will only encourage this waste and pulp in the summer is very attractive to flies and vermin.
Other options for the use of pulp are mixing it with a high DM material like maize grass or straw.
‘We have seen all of the above tried in the UK and Germany’, adds Mr Wilson.
‘You must remember the change in density of the material you are storing if you mix pulp and maize silage for example. The strain put on the clamp walls through this mixture is enormous as the leachate form the pulp is absorbed into the maize silage rather than draining out of the clamps.
I would only attempt this with a clamp with very strong walls, supported by earth banks and at a low fill height, again 4m maximum.
It is also worth considering the added hassle of getting the crops in the clamps as the timing is often tricky with maize being harvested in October but pulp not being available until the sugar beet factories have been opened in November – December.
‘Whatever you do I would spend the time to investigate your storage options as mistakes can be costly both in losses and damage to the clamps.
If you are considering storing sugar beet pulp get in touch with ARK Agriculture now on 01787 220560.