The Pioneer Appli-Pro Super Low Volume (SLV) Applicator System is a new way to apply inoculant to silage using low volumes of inoculant. We put the SLV applicator on our self-propelled forage harvester and our round baler to see how it worked.

We hadn’t used any silage inoculants in our operation for several years, but we were willing to try the SLV system once I saw how easy it was to put on the machine and what a low volume of product would be used. The standard application rate is only 10 ml/ton of silage. 

The applicator itself comes with two 2.5-liter bottles for storing the liquid. Each bottle has concentrated inoculant that will treat 250 tons of silage. All you need to do is add water, shake the bottle and screw it into position on the applicator. Once the solution is mixed, it can be stored in a refrigerator for up to five days, or frozen for up to 28 days, with no loss of efficacy. Pioneer also makes smaller bottles of inoculant (the Completion-Pac) capable of treating 50 tons of silage for finishing fields or doing smaller batches. 

Applicator attachment
Several different mounting brackets are available to attach the applicator to the harvester. We put one on our John Deere 5440 by drilling six holes in front of the steps to the operator station and attaching the mounting bracket to the machine. Plastic tubing runs from the applicator to a small pressure gauge visible from the cab. Another plastic tube goes to a nozzle to apply the inoculant. We placed the nozzle to direct the liquid in front of the feed rolls. 

Depending on the technology level of the forage harvester, the applicator can be connected with wiring harnesses to automatically turn it on and off at the end of the row or by using GPS field border coordinates. In our case with an older machine, we chose the standard setting for manual control of on and off. 

A control box is mounted in the cab. It allows the operator to turn the applicator on and to start and stop the application during harvest, as well as to vary the amount of inoculant applied, based on the harvesting rate. The control box in the cab tells the operator the total tons of silage treated and the application rate.  

Benefits
The Appli-Pro SLV was easy to operate once we got it hooked up and calibrated. The low volume of water needed to apply the inoculant was a big plus. Being able to unscrew the bottles at the end of the day and put them in a refrigerator was convenient. 

Since we only have beef cows and feedlot cattle in our operation, it wasn’t possible to do a side-by-side test of treated and untreated silage to compare the performance of each.

However, it wouldn’t take many tons of feed saved or improved to cover the price of about $1,600 for an applicator and $1.25/ ton to $3.50/ ton for inoculant. 

For more information, visit www.pioneer.com.