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Trench Silo Demonstration
Wintry winds blew, and a light covering
of snow failed to curtail |the crowds at
Friday’s Lancaster County trench silo
demonstrations on the farms of John M.
Groff, R 1 Bareville, and the Harry Grif
fith Farm operated by Robert C. Groff just
north of Quarryville on R 3. Looking over
Trench Silo Cuts Feeding Costs in
Lancaster County Dairy Enterprise
By ERNEST J. NEILL
Editor, Lancaster Farming
Seeking cheaper milk at the production level, Robert C.
Groff has reduced hay purchases through use of a trench
silo. Mr. Groff, who farms the Harry Griffith place just
north of QuarryviUe, was one of
two Lancaster County hosts in a
trench silo demonstration Fri
Explaining procedures and
construction were M. M. Smith,
Lancaster County agricultural
agent, and John Walker, exten
sion agricultural engineer from
Pennsylvania State University.
John M. Groff Host Also
Around 40 attended the 9 - 30
a m meeting on the Robert C.
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THE SIGN OF " qit&UiMe FARM EQUiPMENtI
Groff farm, and in the after
noon, similar sessions were held
at the farm of John M. Groff, Rl
Bareville, on Route 23.
Throughout the country,
trench and bunker-type silos
have been constructed to pro
wide cheaper winter feed, and. in
emergencies, to v salvage drought
burned crops. Locally, however,
the silos of this type have been
used to get a maximum amount
of feed from a minimum acre
At Bob Groff’s, the latter is
the case. He operates a farm of
148 acres, is now milking 13
head of Holstems that pro*
duce 320 gallons of milk daily)
and feeds 50 head an average of
60 lbs of- silage a day.
Markets bi Philadelphia
Bob is justly proud of the pro
gress he is making since moving
into Southern Lancaster County
from the Stevens’ neighborhood.
Today he is selling Grade A milk
to Abbott Dairies, Philadelphia,
with the primary supply of wint
er feed coming from nine acres
of land- )
One hundred and ten loads
almost 200 tons of soybeans
and sorghum, or soybeans and
sudan, went into the silo Using
this combination, no preseiva
tives were necessary.
workmen to assure Its meeting e»
act John Deere quality standards.
That’s why farmers everywhere
are loud in their praise for the de
pendability . . . the quality con
structiott of John Deere Farm
Equipment. See u< for information.
the open end of the silage, with the con
crete walls showing, are from left to right,
Mr. Griffith; Bob Groff; John Walker, ex
tension agricultural engineer from Penn
State, and Max M. Smith, Lancaster Coun
ty agricultural agent. (See accompanying
story). (Lancaster Farming Staff Photo).
Mr. Griffith pointed out that
dirt mounds around the trench
silo which runs north and south,
opening to the south, divert rain
water, preventing erosion and
spoilage Dimensions of the
trench silo are 78 by eight feet
at the bottom, 78 by 14 at the
top. When filled 10 feet high, and
well crowned, it holds an esti
mated 180 to 200 tons. So far,
in the first year, success has
been proved, with only two or
three inches of spoilage.
Sixteen ton of sand, 24 tons of
stone, ans 114 bags of cement
went into construction of this
trench silo, at a total cost of
Breakdown of Costs
Some dynamite was necessary
to break up rock formations on
the slope where construction was
made Digging cost $l6O, blade
work—sB2 50 and labor approxi
mately $270, figured at $1 per
hour. The first side was erected
in one day, the second side was
erected on a less steady basis,
but was completed in 2% days
by three men.
“You should figure digging
costs at approximately $1 per
ton of capacity,” Mr. Walker ex
plained, showing the Gnffith-
Groff contruction figures very
closely to customary estimates.
The Penn State engineer added
that trench silos can be con
structed over a period of years,
and used during that time The
first year they may be used
without concrete, perhaps even
into the second year, to spread
the costs over a longer time
“It will take about one-third
of a yard of concrete per ton of
capacity, and when figured at $6
per ton, concrete should cost
about $600,” he added
Trench Silo Labor Saver
The trench silo is a labor sav
er, Mr Smith and Mr Walker
told the group It is easier to
till, easier to use Costs are low.
It may be built quickly, and
(there is less danger involved
than in a tower silo.
Three men filled the silo in
the southern end of the county
in four days, using a field chop
There as more spoilage in a
trench silo than in an upright,
but this loss is easily offset by
cost. “You can’t dig trench silos
every where due to the water
table being too shallow,” Mr.
Walker warned, “but in that c<N£
you can use a bunker-type silo.”
“A v trench silo is ideal when
constructed on a bank, and
there should be an eight-foot fall
in each 80 feet to assure proper
drainage,” Mr. Walker advised.
At the same time, trench silos
should not be constructed too
near dug wells, or water may
be blackened and contaminated, j
Lancaster Farming, Friday, February 24, 1956
or too near the residence, where
odors may be offensive. Con
struction close to the barn or
feeding area is advised, allowing
room for juices to seep away, and
to save labor.
Any Hay Mixture
Sides should slope back two
feet at the top in an eight-foot
wall. Slanted sides ease packing,
and will give less spoilage than
Bob uses a rubber-tired trac
tor to pack his silage, as weight
is more concentrated on tires
than on the broad footage of a
Mr. Smith explained other fea
tures of a trench hilo especially
crops that can be used. “Any
hay mixture is good; soybeans
sorghum or soybeans and Sudan
offer some of the best tonnage,
and no preservative is neces
sary,” he told-
If preservatives are necessary,
any cereal crop chopped or
ground can be used. Grasses and
•legumes - need preservatives.
Another good combination plant
ing for Lancaster County is
Canadian field peas and spring
oats, using a bushel of inoculated
peas to a bushel of oats to seed
“Make sure you combine crops
that mature simultaneously,”
Mr Smith warned. In the peas
oats combination, seeding should
be done in March, with fertilizer
drilled separately. Harvest when
small peas form, when oats head
out. Be sure to use preserva
tives,” he told.
“It takes high quality’ hay to
make high quality silage,” Mr.
Com May Be Added
Corn may be added to serve
as both a preservative and to in
crease pala'tability crushed or
ground. Preservatives must be
mixed thoroughly and it would
be advantageous to mix them at
the field chopper as the ground
material goes into the blower.
Crops destined for silage need
moisture,‘and those over mature
A Subsidhrv of the
Commonwealth Telephone Co.
are of little value. Grass is best
when just heading. Alfalla
serves best just before it shoots
a head, or m 10 to 20 per cent
blossom. Clover in onenthird blos
som is also good, and alsike in
full bloom may be used.
By cutting at this period, it is
possible to save more of the feed
nutrients than m any other form
of feed harvest.
“Put good stuff an your trench
silo. Cut grass at the proper state
of maturity, when it’s green and
juicy. Use preservatives,” Mr.
Seal Top Carefully
Pack silage well, the group was
told, especially along the sides,
which aie more vulnerable to
seepage. The top must be care
fully covered, and the best seal
is tarpaper and dirt or sawdust.
Three inches of ground limestone
may be spread evenly on top,
and after a rain or two will form
a weather-proof crust.
Feeding is ordinarily from the
front end of the silo, using a
tractor scoop or loader.
Mr. Smith advises against self
feeding dairy stock. For beef
cattle and dry cows, yes, but
hand feeding is recommended in.
the case of dairy stock. Mr.
Walker showed a scale model of
an ideal trench silo, as well as
models of feeding gates, both
movable wooden gate type, and
gate suspended from chains on
a bar crossing the top of the
Summing up the advantages of
a trench silo, Mr. Smith told,
“You can get the most feed
value by making grains into
silage. You use all feed nutrients.
You cut the need for hay but
some dry material, 5 to 10
pounds daily, is still needed”
Around 40 attended the Bare
ville meeting too.
It looks like the government’s
latest raising of interest rates
checked the boom Now every
one is watching for the next