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To assess suitability of mat making technologies to the UK - WA0108

Description
Research is being conducted in North America and at some European centres to develop technologies for forming mats of forage crops in order to achieve very rapid wilting, which reduces moisture content and subsequent silage effluent. This study will aim to assess the feasibility of achieving accelerated field wilting by mat making in the UK climate to reduce silage effluent prior to ensiling. The study will be composed of 5 specific objectives outlined as follows, together with ways in which they might be achieved: 1. To establish the feasibility of accelerating wilting in forage crops by mat making. Test mats (0.15 m2), representing different yields of various forage crops will be field dried under different weather conditions and existing and novel mat architectures will be evaluated. A cost evaluation of mat making will be performed and compared with more traditional forage systems. Consultation with researchers in animal nutrition and with machinery manufacturers will also be made as part of the feasibility study; 2. To conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the full costs of mat making and conservation system. Results of experiments conducted during completion of the first objective will be used in a model of grass growth, harvesting machinery systems and ultimate forage quality; 3. To establish an understanding of mat drying and to maximise the rate of moisture removal under UK conditions by developing a model of mat microclimate. Aspects to be considered will include moisture evaporation from the mat surface, moisture migration through the mat during drying and factors that retard drying, such as precipitation and stubble length/soil moisture content relationships; 4. To establish support data for the previous objective by conducting a series of controlled experiments building on the field experience with test mats gained in the first objective. Test mats will be dried in a wind tunnel with simulated solar radiation facilities and climatic conditions representing different UK regions. Parameters such as mat density, mat temp. gradient and humidity below the mat during drying will be required to support the modelling approach; and 5. To investigate options for mat collection with a view to achieving maximum crop collection without soil contamination. Laboratory simulations of existing and new (high speed pickup) options will be performed. Overall, results of this study should lead to an improved understanding of the mechanisms of moisture release, migration and retention in the complex matrices of field dried matted forage. The final report will include recommendations for the use or non-use of mat making by commercial farmers.
Objective
To establish the feasibility of achieving accelerated field wilting by mat making in the UK climate. To conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the full costs of a mat making and conservation system in conjunction with SCAE. To establish an understanding of mat drying and to maximise the rate of moisture removal under UK conditions by developing a model of mat microclimate. To establish support data for Objective (iii) by conducting a series of controlled experiments building on the field experience with test mats gained in Objective (i). To measurement of mat integrity, laboratory simulation of existing and new (high speed pickup) options for mat collection with a view to achieving maximum crop collection without soil contamination.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1993

To: 1997

Cost: £338,966
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Silsoe Research Institute (BBSRC)
Keywords
              
Fields of Study
Environmental Protection - Agriculture