Ammoniation is relatively simple, but the following steps from NDSU and University of Nebraska experts can help to ensure success:

  • Select an area with good drainage and protection from strong winds. Before stacking the bales, disk the area to loosen soil for anchoring the plastic.

  • Stack bales in a three-two-one pyramid and cover with plastic to make an airtight environment. Six- to eight-millimeter black plastic is recommended.

  • Once the pile is covered, leave a small space to insert a pipe for adding anhydrous at the midpoint of the stack.

  • Insert a 6-10'-long pipe on the ground and seal the plastic with loose soil around the pipe. Connect the pipe to the anhydrous tank hose with an adapter. Use a shut-off valve on the pipe to eliminate back flow of anhydrous when disconnecting.

  • To start, turn on the anhydrous valve slowly until the plastic balloons slightly, then shut it off. Check the stack for tears in the plastic or leaks around the edge. Seal tears with duct tape. Slowly add the remainder of the anhydrous; do not balloon the plastic. Wear goggles, rubber gloves, respirator and protective clothing when working with anhydrous.

  • Add 60 lbs of anhydrous ammonia per ton of dry forage (3% dry matter content) — or to cut costs, reduce the amount to 2% or 2.5%.

  • It will take eight to 10 minutes to add anhydrous per ton of residue; a 30-ton stack requires about five hours.

  • After treatment is complete, turn off the valve, remove the pipe and seal the area where the pipe was removed. The forage will need to be sealed for one to eight weeks depending on temperature.

  • Open one end of the stack three to five days before feeding to let the excess ammonia dissipate.