Growers interested in investing in preservative applicators for their small square balers shouldn’t worry they’ll break the bank, says Andrew Frankenfield, ag educator with Penn State University Extension.

A 25-gallon liquid applicator for a baler typically costs less than $400, he points out. Adding a bale-mounted moisture tester to the unit will bring the total investment to around $800.

A grower with several thousand dollars to spend may want a more fully automated system with a monitor for regulating preservative flow depending on the moisture content of the hay, he suggests.

To justify such a buy, think of the lost value on five acres of rained-on hay, advises Frankenfield. “That could have been worth $2,500 ($250/ton x 2 tons/acre x 5 acres). Now (due to rain damage) 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.”

To see Frankenfield’s calculations on preservative rates and costs, click here.

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