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Value of Baler Preservative Applicators

Value of Baler Preservative Applicators

By Andrew Frankenfield

Do you think baler preservative applicators are too expensive or too complicated? They are more affordable and simpler than you may think. With the challenges that come with making dry hay, it may be a change you can’t afford not to make.

Anyone that bales dry hay has had to chase a field of hay in before the rain comes. Many times the hay is almost fit to bale but it is a little tough and you bale it and hope it doesn’t mold. These are the times you think, if I only had a preservative applicator on the baler, I could bale this and shouldn’t have any problems. Then you think, they are too expensive for me as I only bale a couple thousand small square bales a year. Think again!

You can buy a basic 25-gallon baler liquid applicator for around $500. It is not complicated; it is a small electric sprayer that you mount on the baler. The next thing you would probably want is a baler-mounted moisture tester so you can see the moisture of the hay as you bale. They can be purchased for $350-$500. So, for less than $1,000 you can outfit your baler with the ability to apply a hay preservative when conditions are not perfect for baling, but be able to get the hay off the field before the rain destroys the quality.

Of course, if you want all the bells and whistles you can spend a few thousand dollars or more to get fully automatic controls. These systems have a monitor that regulates the flow of the preservative depending on the moisture content of the hay, also the applicator turns off and on when hay is flowing thru the baler pick up with the use of an electric eye. The choice is yours. But think of the value of 5 acres of hay that you don’t get baled due to rain. That could have been worth $2,500 ($250 a ton x 2 tons per acre x 5 acres), now it is only worth maybe $125 a ton and valued at $1,250. That $1,250 lost could have paid for the applicator, moisture tester, and preservative and you would still have money left in your pocket.

How much will it cost to apply the preservative to small square bales?

You can buy various types of preservatives in multiple unit sizes. One product for example, if you buy a 50-gallon drum (450 pounds) it costs about $450 or $1.00 per pound. If you buy a 275-gallon tote (2,380 pounds) it costs about $2,000 or $0.84 per pound.

Hay Stem MoistureSmall Square and Round Baler Application RateApplication Cost Per Ton
based on ($1.00/pound)
22% and under4 pounds/ton$4.00
23% - 26%8 pounds/ton$8.00
27% - 30%16 pound/ton$16.00
Above 30%DO NOT BALE 
Hay Stem MoistureLarge Square Baler Application RateApplication Cost Per Ton
based on ($1.39/pound)
22% and under6 pounds/ton$6.00
23% - 26%10 pounds/ton$10.00
27% - 30%DO NOT BALE 
Above 30%DO NOT BALE 

How do you calculate how much preservative to apply?

It is like calibrating a sprayer, but instead of gallons per acre you need to calculate pounds per ton. First, you need to figure out how many tons per hour of hay you bale. Count the number of small square bales you make in three minutes. Let’s say it is 15 bales. Then weigh several of those bales to get an average weight. Let’s say they are 40 pounds. If you bale 15 bales in 3 minutes then in an hour of continuous baling you will bale 300 bales with an average weight of 40 pounds. 40 x 300 = 12,000 pounds per hour or 6 tons/hour. If you are trying to apply 4 pounds of preservative per ton you will need (6 x 4) 24 pounds per hour. If the preservative weighs 9 pounds per gallon that is 2.7 gallons per hour (24/9=2.7) or 0.045 gallons per minute (2.7/60=0.045). Remember to take into account the specific gravity since the preservative is slightly heavier than water. In my example, the specific gravity factor is 1.06 (0.045 x 1.06=0.048 gallons per minute).

Calculating Preservative Tips for Small Square BalerExampleYour Numbers
Number of small bales in 3 minutes15 
Average Bale Weight40 
Tons per Hour
(Bales in 3 minutes x 20 x Bale Weight/2000)
(15 x 20 x 40 / 2000 = 6)
Desired Preservative Rate (#/ton)4 
Pounds of Preservative per hour
(Preservative Rate x Tons per Hour)
(4 x 6 = 24)
Gallons of Preservative per Hour
(Pounds of Preservative per Hour/
weight of 1 gallon of Preservative)
(24 / 9 = 2.67)
Flow Rate of Preservative in Gallons per Minute
(Gallons of Preservative per Hour/60)
(2.7/60 = 0.045)
Adjust for Specific Gravity
(Gallons per minute x specific gravity factor)
(0.045 x 1.06 = 0.048)
Flow Rate Needed Using One Spray Tip0.048 

In this example we would use one TP110050 spray tip at 35-40 PSI to achieve our desired 4 pounds of preservative per ton of hay. If we need 8 pounds per ton, we can turn a second spray tip or replace the single TP110050 tip with a tip with twice the output such as TP11001.

spray tip at 40 PSI

Using this spray tip at 40 PSI will apply 0.050 gallons per minute or 3 gallons per hour. 

I know it is more money to spend, but it may be an investment that pays for itself the first year you install it on the baler.

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