Low-dose additive works

Frustrated that your forage harvester is capable of cutting 200-300t of grass an hour but you keep having to stop to fill up the additive tank?

At last you can settle into your cab seat for hours on end, as a new ultra-low volume (ULV) inoculant additive and application system requires a refill only after 1000-1200t.

Low-dose applicators of different types have been used in the USA before, but none of the additives or systems were developed or tested to prove they offered the performance expected at low doses, says Terry Owen of Ecosyl.

A few years ago, even he wasn’t convinced low-dose additives could work.

“Our new additive – Ecosyl ULV – supplies one million bacteria to every gram of grass,” says Dr Owen.

“The Ecosyler application system, refined with the help of a few contractors last season, has proven to distribute bacteria well.”

Pivotal to the setup’s success is the accelerator fan at the base of the forager chute, which blows air at up to 150mph.

Applying the product by a nozzle fitted into the chute after the fan means it is atomised.

With just 20ml – equal to four teaspoons – of additive applied for each tonne of grass, compared with 1.5 to 3 litres conventionally, accurate measurement and delivery is also essential.

An electronic control box allows the rate to be set relative to hourly throughput, as estimated by the driver.

The total cost of the application system will be about 600, but unfortunately it will not remove the need for a maize or whole-crop application system, because such low doses are not possible to meet the requirements of additives that need to deliver aerobic stability.

But Dr Owen stresses there is no compromise for farmers using an inoculant on grass to improve milk yields.

The product costs the same – 1.20-1.45 for each tonne treated.

And the number of bacteria delivered is said to be the same or higher than conventional products.

Also, there is no concern about additive quality suffering when the weather changes, says Dr Owen.

“Bacteria remain viable for a couple of days at ambient temperature or can be stored for more than 10 days in a fridge when harvest is delayed.”