Fresh cut lawn clippings have a shelf life of 8-18 hours before they heat up and begin to mold. Another name for this process is composting. Ensiling is not the same as composting, they re polar opposites.
On the subject of composting the USDA has made the official claim that this practice of composting has been declining since 2006. This means fewer individuals are recycling lawn clippings and more grass clippings are just being thrown away for a price. Lawn clippings are the primary green waste contributing to the premature filling of landfill sites nationwide. Over the last five years I have personally witnessed more and more commercial bagging units being displayed at the national lawn & garden shows. This cause and effect would seem to quantify the USDA claims.
There are 30 million acres of turf being mowed and bagged every week in the USA and 23 million acres are being thrown away and not composted or mulched back into lawns. These clippings are reducing the life span of landfills by 30% causing landfills to reach their capacity prematurely. The BioPac'r is the only device on the planet that facilitates the conversion from fresh lawn clippings to Lawn Clipping Silage™. The bagged commodity can then be bought and sold as other commodities like alfalfa, corn or pork bellies.
Yellowstone Compact & Commodities Corp (YCC) will broker the silage created by its users and match an individual landscaper with a livestock producer of smaller 1-50 head operations. Larger feedlots would use the silage produced by multiple BioPac'r users, but then again, YCC will help to secure these contracts via our producers network.
The only concerns I have been asked about feeding grass clipping silage is the question of pesticides that were used on the grass and poisonous plants like Oleander, Cocklebur, Lambsquarter or other noxious weeds, shrubs or trees that may be tossed in with the clippings. All farmers already know that most common pesticides degraded and breakdown during the fermentation process. Ensiling results in a safe to feed product.
Grading Lawn Clipping Silage
We want to assure the livestock producers that the silage they are feeding what put up under some very strict rules. We have in place a system to certify the silage in several different categories. We will require all suppliers to certify that the lawn clippings are free of pet waste and other contaminants prior to mowing. We don't want any noxious weeds or poisonous plants to find there way into the supply chain.
We will be authorizing spot checks of income silage to our end users. If the product contains contamination, the product can be rejected at the cost of the supplier. This makes the supplier accountable prior to bagging.
Requirements for the Blue Ribbon Certification (Cattle/ Dairy Feed)
- Turfgrass varieties only, No mature pasture grasses with or without seeds can be present.
- Poisonous plant leaves, stems, etc like Rhododendron, Oleander, etc. should never be added to the turf clippings.
- Pet excrement must be cleaned off the turf prior to harvesting.
- Clippings contaminated with pine (conifer) needles are not allowed.
- Power raking and De-thatching debris is not allowed.
- Spring cleanup and fall cleanup debris are not allowed.
- Clipping with sand or soil present cannot be used.
Requirements for the Brown Ribbon Certification (Bio Fuel Feed stock)
- Check with your end user as to any limitation they have on Biomass.
- Any biomass with at least 65% moisture can be used.
It's really up to the silage supplier (lawn maintenance company, golf course, sod grower, landfill hauler, etc) about what value they place on their silage and the amount of time they want to put into their product. If they want top dollar, Blue Ribbon quality silage will be used to feed livestock, they need to keep it clean, but they also need to keep good records so we know that lawns harvested on Monday all contributed to a individual 1-ton bag. If they are supplying the raw materials for a fuel pelleting operation, or bio gas production the "Brown Ribbon" grade may be just fine for landscaper that is interest in not having to pay to throw away and also not interested in a big pay check at the end of the month.
Until Next Time..