24 October 1997

Lab test scheme gives grain seal of approval

UKASTAs lab accreditation

scheme is beginning to take

shape. Amanda Dunn

examines its details and

gauges farmer and trade

reaction

RAISING farmer confidence in the results from grain tests conducted by the trade is the goal of UKASTAs new laboratory accreditation scheme.

"For many years there has been dissatisfaction over sampling and testing of grain from on-farm stores," acknowledges Jamie Day, merchanting manager at UKASTA.

"The launch of the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme has increased the impetus for an initiative to standardise trade testing. Farmers growing crops to ACCS standards need an assurance that the high status of their grain will be maintained once it leaves the farm gate."

UKASTAs Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops (TASCC) aims to achieve just that. It covers lab analysis, storage and haulage.

At the heart of the scheme is a manual giving guidance on staff training, equipment choice, sample handling and test methods.

Comprehensive equipment logs will be needed, detailing maintenance, repairs and calibration results. Only machines from an approved list will be accepted.

Specified test methods will be followed to ensure consistency, and tolerances for each test detailed in the manual. Reference samples will be used at regular intervals and auditable records kept to confirm accuracy. "We are also looking at ring testing to confirm the uniformity of results. However, this may not be introduced until later," adds Mr Day.

The TASCC scheme will be independently audited, will cover all cereal tests detailed in UKASTA contracts 1 and 2 and should be in operation by next harvest.

UKASTAs new code should help avoid grain testing problems.

UKASTA SCHEME

&#8226 Detailed guidance.

&#8226 External auditing.

&#8226 Operator competence.

&#8226 Approved list of equipment.

&#8226 Comprehensive maintenance logs.

&#8226 Standard test methods.

&#8226 Regular reference samples.