Tools are available to help corn growers and dairy and livestock producers negotiate a fair price for corn silage. University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension has developed a spreadsheet, apps for both Android and IOS, and a worksheet for hand calculations to assist in spot pricing for standing corn silage. The tools encourage communication between buyers and sellers.
The Excel spreadsheet and smart phone apps (Android and IOS) are designed to provide a range in prices (price minimum for seller and price max for buyer). Users can input expected corn grain yield and silage harvest moisture to estimate the as fed tons of silage to be harvested. To increase accuracy, growers can enter their actual yield if known. Cash grain and low protein forage prices are used as reference feeds to estimate a feed value.
The added nutrient removal value of harvesting silage vs. grain is computed by entering commercial P205 and K20 fertilizer prices, grain vs. silage yield, and expected nutrient removal differences according guidelines in Extension’s A2809 Nutrient Application Guidelines for Field, Vegetable, and Fruit Crops in Wisconsin. Additionally, the cost savings of not having to combine, dry, or store the crop as grain are calculated.
From the buyer’s perspective silage harvest and storage costs are entered to derive the “as fed” value delivered to the feed bunk. In some cases, the seller is also incurring the silage harvest costs and the programs allow the user to make that adjustment.
A simple moisture adjustment calculator is also included in all formats for those times corn silage varies from the standard 65% used in most calculations.
Having an on-farm scale and weighing loads is the gold standard to determine silage yield, but that may not be practical on many farms. To estimate silage yield based on grain yield, use the Excel spreadsheet and smart phone apps (Android and IOS). The worksheet includes useful calculations to estimate yield by taking multiple sample weights by hand in the field. Portable weigh pads used for manure spreader calibration may also be available to weigh a few wagons to get a better yield estimate.
Additional information that demonstrates how to use these tools, along with pricing pricing drought stressed corn, can be found in this 2021 webinar and this 2021 podcast.
Maximizing corn silage yield and quality provides additional tips for corn growers.