2 April 1999

Appli-Pro solution to inoculant refills

HAVING to stop a high-capacity forage harvester to replenish inoculant tanks several times a day can be a time consuming and, for many, an irritating distraction from the main silaging operation.

Northants-based Pioneer Hi-Bred believes it has cracked the problem by introducing a low-volume system which allows up to 1600 tonnes of forage to be treated in one fill.

"With most other systems, standard application rate is 2 litres/tonne," explains operations manager Simon Preece. "With the new Appli-Pro system rates can be reduced to as low as 0.25 litres/tonne."

Key to the system is a peristaltic pump which injects precise quantities of concentrated inoculant in to a controlled flow of water delivered from the main 375 litre capacity water tank.

The inoculant itself is formulated with a highly soluble powder carrier which requires only a small quantity of water to activate the bacteria. Supplied in a bottle which connects directly onto the pump, inoculant cost is put at £1.20/tonne treated.

Ensuring such low volumes are applied accurately to forage – at the right rate – as it passes through the harvester calls for a computer controlled operating system. In operation, the output of the forager is entered along with the required water rate.

"We did question whether using low volumes of inoculant would pose any problems in terms of even and accurate application," says Mr Preece. "A series of tests have confirmed that both these requirements are achieved."

Further commercial evaluation trials this year will be followed by general availability next year. Price of the whole unit – pump, mounting brackets, water tank and control panel is expected to be in the £800-£1000 range. &#42