Everyone should use inoculant this year

Posted on May 19, 2022 in Forage Foundations
WindleBy Dr. Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian, Vita Plus forage and dairy technical services

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the price of starch and protein is extremely high. Rations are costly, and producers are doing everything that they can to maintain income over feed costs. It follows, logically, that silages are also being valued at a premium, oftentimes more than double the historical values.

Forage inoculants are bacteria that are applied silage to increase fermentation efficiency. Microbial analyses of treated versus untreated silages show that successfully treated silages (those that have been inoculated at the right rate with a good quality inoculant) have less microbial diversity, less wild bacteria, and more of the bacteria from the inoculant than other types of bacteria.

This improved fermentation efficiency ultimately results in less dry matter loss. How? It’s a simple physics concept: You cannot feed gas to dairy cows.

During fermentation, bacteria consume silage, converting its nutrients from a solid form into a gas from. The longer the fermentation lasts, the more nutrients those bacteria digest and the more gas that is produced. That means more silage literally disappears into the air. In contrast, when fermentation happens quickly, fewer nutrients are lost and more remain in storage for you to feed to your herd.

DM losses are crucial to track. The value of silage has skyrocketed, which means the penalty of DM loss has also skyrocketed. Each ton of gas that is produced represents a loss proportional to the value of the silage.

Prior to the increase in feed values, inoculants were a sound investment. In today’s markets, we cannot afford to skip inoculants. Protect your crops’ nutrients with high-quality inoculants as we begin with first-cutting alfalfa and move through the rest of forage season.

Category: Business and economics
Forage Foundations
Forage harvesting
Forage inoculants