Inoculant Application Calibration Helps Protect Your Forages

By Daniel Wiersma, DuPont Pioneer Livestock Information Manager

Today, most forage growers and dairymen understand the value of high-quality forages. They also know it is important to protect these forages with a quality silage inoculant. Ideally, this inoculant protection starts at the forage chopper. To ensure correct application rates, growers must pay attention to inoculant applicator calibration.

Bacterial inoculants function best when applied uniformly to freshly chopped forages. Accurate application rates are critical to help overcome naturally occurring epiphytes (bad bugs).

Maximum inoculant effectiveness and fermentation success starts with proper calibration. Here are three keys to successful applicator preparation and calibration.

    1.   Always read and follow the label directions for the inoculant purchased. Each manufacturer formulates and packages inoculant differently resulting in different application rate recommendations.
    2.   Clean out and calibrate applicators at the beginning of the season, during the harvesting period and between harvests. Also, don’t forget to calibrate new applicator equipment.
  • Replace filters and nozzles frequently to ensure uniform application. Recalibrate after nozzle and filter changes.
  • Low volume applicators are great for reducing in-field water needs, but require careful calibration to ensure correct application rates.
  • Use multiple nozzles when applying inoculants on balers and bagger equipment to help achieve more uniform delivery.
    3.   Match inoculant application rate with forage delivery rates. Output from an applicator is different when delivering 300 tons per hour to the silo versus 50 tons per hour.
  • Use a stopwatch to time forage unloading rates when applying at the silo.
  • Monitor application rates frequently during silage harvest. Watch the pressure gauge and empty rate of your applicator tank to help you understand if things are working as expected.
  • Newer choppers may be equipped with a yield monitor. When using a synchronized inoculant applicator, inoculant delivery rates are adjusted on-the-go.

Calibration is like getting a teenage boy to brush his teeth. He will comb his hair all day long, but never wants to take the time in the morning to brush his teeth. Similarly, accurate calibration is an essential element of your inoculant investment. An application in excess of the recommended rate is uneconomical. Inoculant applications below recommended levels may limit the maximum performance of the product. Calibrate today and calibrate frequently for greater inoculant success.

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The foregoing is provided for informational purposes only. Please consult with your nutritionist or veterinarian for suggestions specific to your operation. Product performance is variable and subject to a variety of environmental, disease, and pest pressures. Individual results may vary.


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