24 November 1995

DATA DEFINES RIGHT PRODUCT FOR JOB

UK livestock farmers now have direct access to independently assessed information on silage additives thanks to an initiative by UKASTA and the UK advisory services

UK LIVESTOCK producers now know for what job a particular additive has been approved with the publication, in association with the United Kingdom Agricultural Supply Trade Ass-ociation, of this the third register of approved products for the UK Forage Additives Approval Scheme.

The scheme was launched two years ago to provide the UK with its own voluntary system of assessing and approving forage additives. It has been introduced in stages to allow technical experts time to prepare dossiers on trial results needed to justify approval of additives for relevant categories.

This latest register of products details which additives meet three different categories of approval.

The categories comprise C:silage quality (fermentation, aerobic stability, effluent and ensiling losses); B: feed intake and efficiency of nutrient use; and A: animal performance (see approval key, pS4).

"Such approval should take the mystery out of the forage additive market and help farmer users select products for their specific needs," says Derek Ward, manager of UKASTAs plant health, fertiliser and forage additives division.

To gain approval products had to be registered with UKASTA and trial data submitted for assessment by a team of experts from ADAS, the Scottish Agri-cultural College and the Depart-ment of Agriculture, Northern Ireland.

Additives submitted for appraisal which fail to achieve significant gains over a no-additive control have been deleted from the list.

UKASTA claims few additives are not registered under the scheme. Most of the established products are approved, and "own-label" products have gained approval through the submissions made by their makers. "Out of 107 products on the list, 50 were approved in November 1994 and many more are approved by category this year," says Mr Ward.

ADAS nutritionist Philip Haigh has high hopes that the UKASTA silage additive app-roval scheme will help farmers check whether they are currently using the right product for their conditions, and provide guidance for new users and those who change their silage making philosophy.

"The additive market has been a bit of a jungle in the past. We have always advised farmers to be a little bloody-minded and ask additive suppliers some very searching questions about independent trial results that support their claims. Sadly, we know that this has not always been done, and those of us involved in the UKASTA scheme were provided with trial data on only 107 of the 128 products submitted.

"I think the scheme will sort out the men from the boys by providing comprehensive information on the best products in nine categories. Silage is not the cheap feed some farmers appear to think it is. If the UKASTA scheme information is used correctly it should be possible to make additive use more precise and cost-effective," he says.

John Waddell of the Scottish Agricultural College and chairman of forage additive assessment panel agrees with the views of Mr Haigh.

"At the moment it is the salesmans individual pitch that convinces the farmer to choose one additive product in preference to another," he says.

"With the introduction of the scheme the farmer will know that all products registered and approved have a proven level of efficacy under a wide range of silage making conditions."

Raymond Steen of the Depart-ment of Agriculture Northern Ireland, also assessing the additives, says: "The scheme goes further by approving additives within one of three categories which show whether the product improves the ensiling process, up-take and digestion, or animal performance." These categories give farmers a considerable amount of information on which to base a buying decision. &#42

ADASs Philip Haigh: "The scheme will sort out the men from the boys by providing information

on the best products in nine categories."