WE have all seen the green bales of silage in local paddocks.
Wrapping the bales in plastic allows the feed to be stored for extended periods. While it has been a wonderful innovation it has caused headaches for farmers when it comes to disposing of the plastic wrap.
Now an innovative new program will allow dairy farmers to recycle silage wrap, twine and silage pit covers.
Shoalhaven City Council, the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority and Southern Councils Group have combined with the South Coast and Highlands Dairy Industry Group to launch the program.
A trial has been undertaken in the Shoalhaven for the past two years, but it was officially launched at the NSW Department of Primary Industry office at Berry on Thursday.
Farmers from the Shoalhaven, Kiama and Shellharbour local government areas were able to collect free liner bags, which can store the silage wrap before it is recycled.
There are 40 dairy farms in the Shoalhaven.
Four farms are milking more than 500 head, with one reaching more than 2000 in two holdings; 20 milk between 300 and 500 head, while 15 farms milk less than 300 cows.
Most of those farms use silage.
It is estimated the average dairy farm produces 0.5 tonnes of silage wrap per annum.
Very little of that is recycled, which the new project aims to address.
The recycling of the silage wrap is easy – farmers just need to separate the net, shake off excess silage and moisture, roll the wrap into a football and push down tightly into a green Plasback bag liner.
Once the liner is full, farmers tie it off, remove it from the bin and stockpile, out of the weather if possible, before dropping it at a local transfer station.
Silage pit covers can also be recycled along with baling twine.
Shoalhaven farmers are able to drop off their bags for recycling at the council’s West Nowra Depot or at the South Nowra office of Subloos, which runs the Shoalhaven’s 10 waste depots.
Once enough recycled bags are collected, they are fed through the company’s baler, which produces a 1.5 cubic metre square bale which is transported to Plasback to begin its next life.
The recycled waste is used to produce a variety of different products from Tuffboard, a plywood replacement, Tuffpost posts, battens, stakes and decking through to compost bins and worm farms.
Southern Councils Group project co-ordinator Brian MacDonald said left on farm plastic was a hazard to people, animals and the environment.
“It can be an eyesore in a region frequented by tourists and can find its way into waterways, threatening animals and marine life,” he said.
“Burning plastic is illegal, wasteful and creates harmful emissions.
“Buried plastics waste a resource and occupy valuable land fill.”