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ArticleVolume Number July 8, 2019

Four basic principles for using forage inoculants

Quatre principes de base à respecter dans l’utilisation des inoculants pour les fourrages

The end of the first cut inevitably results in questions about using inoculants for forage preservation. With such a wide variety of inoculants available, it is hard to keep track of them all. It can help to keep the following principles in mind:

1.    Inoculants do not replace proper silage management: ideal moisture at harvest, the proper chop length, good compaction, an airtight silo, and efficient feed out.

View our How to Succeed in Making Quality Silage video.

2.    Inoculants are living organisms that require specific storage and application conditions such as water temperature (35°C) and no chlorination in the water.

3.    Silage inoculants can be classified in two major groups:

  • Homolactic Bacteria (Lactobacillus plantarum, Enterococcus and fæcium) produce lactic acid, which rapidly reduces silage pH and helps to prevent the development of detrimental microorganisms (Enterobacteria and Clostridia).
  • Heterolactic Bacteria (Lactobacillus buchneri) produce acetic acid 1,2- propanediol from lactic acid. This promotes better aerobic stability (prevents silage from heating).

4.    Apply a minimum of 100,000 coliform forming units (cfu)/gram of fresh forage for inoculants with homolactic bacteria and a minimum of 400,000 cfu/gram of fresh silage for inoculants with heterolactic bacteria (Lactobacillus buchneri).

In conclusion, it is important to base your choices on scientific recommendations that apply to your specific situation. Be sure to ask your representative for the pertinent scientific documentation and ask your Lactanet advisor for relevant advice.

Looking for additional information on the same topic? Here is another article of interest: Choosing the Best Inoculant for Forage Preservation.

Written in collaboration with Julie Baillargeon, M.Sc., agr.