19 November 1999

CLARITYLIFTS CONFIDENCE

Self-assessment tax forms, IACS documents, planning applications. All three have one thing in common – theyre usually difficult to follow, and a challenge to fill in correctly.

But that certainly isnt the case for this years UKASTA Forage Additive Approval Scheme register. Re-invented and re-designed for this Forage Additives supplement, it should be easier to follow and use, giving producers and advisers clear information on exactly which additive will do what, how much they cost and individual application rates.

Now, the confusion of categories A, B and C has been replaced with clear headings – animal and silo – with each split into key approval areas. This will, at a glance, allow users to assess which additive is right for their task.

But the scheme hasnt only had a cosmetic makeover; more rigorous testing is also being introduced. For new products, this means submitting more data for approval under an animal category.

In addition, gaining approval for improving animal performance means meeting higher standards than in the past; now, additives must improve liveweight gain, milk production, intake and digestibility by a greater margin than in the past.

Approved products are also to be monitored more frequently, and in particular before first and second silage cuts.

Theres little doubt that these moves can only improve producer confidence. That can only help additive manufacturers at a time when farm profits are in the doldrums.

With faltering market conditions contributing to a fall of 15-25% in additive use this year, proving to customers that products will do what they say – and will improve silage quality – is vital.

There may be little difference in the costs of making poor and high quality silage, but in terms of animal performance, the difference can be chalk and cheese – and selecting the right additive for the job can certainly go a long way to help achieve top quality silage.