Inoculant applicators: Cleaning and mixing 101 (Vita Plus Forage Team)
Winter 2014 seemed like it would never end. Inevitably, that means that the upcoming planting and haylage season will fly by all too quickly. As you wait out the last days of cool temperatures and wet fields, take a few minutes to clean up your applicators and review inoculant mixing procedures. This will save you time when you’re finally able to hit the fields.
Sanitize your applicator
Make sure you have the “right bugs” in your inoculant tank by thoroughly cleaning the equipment prior to use. First, thoroughly rinse and flush the applicator with clean water. Next, fill the tank with water and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of household chlorine bleach. For maximum effectiveness, the equipment should be relatively clean before you add the bleach and it needs about 20 minutes of contact time once it’s added.
Remember that bleach can weaken some plastics or corrode metals if exposed to equipment for too long of a time. Circulate the solution through the spray lines, screens and nozzles, and then double-rinse the applicator to remove all traces of the bleach solution.
Properly store inoculant products
Store all unopened inoculants in a cool, dry place. Refrigeration at 40 degrees is recommended for Vita Plus’ Crop-N-Rich Buchneri and Stage 2 inoculants. It’s best to use whole packages at one time as open products will lose viability between crops.
Once inoculants are mixed, they should remain stable for about 48 hours. Keep the water as cold as possible (adding ice bottles to the solution will help maintain viability). Empty the applicator before adding additional product. This will help prevent a biofilm from forming.
Mixing inoculants in water
Never mix inoculant directly in the applicator tank. Rather, premix the powder in 1 to 3 gallons of water. To get the best mix, add the inoculant powder slowly to keep lumps from forming and never add water to the inoculant powder. Next, allow at least one minute of continuous agitation (shaking is preferred) for the powder to disperse. Chlorinated water can be used to mix inoculants, however, the chlorine level should be less than 100 ppm.
Click here for a technical bulletin with further details on cleaning applicators and mixing inoculants.