27 November 1998


PROGRESS is always welcome, and its something thats covered in this, the sixth register of the UKASTA Forage Additive Approvals Scheme, designed to help you choose the best forage additive for your situation.

These comprehensive lists, detailing how forage additives perform under scientific trials, continue to provide the best independent guide. The monitoring scheme gives producers every confidence that the additives listed will match their specifications when used on farm.

This years addition of crop-specific additive recommendations will prove a boon to producers in a quandary about how best to ensure aerobic stability in grass and maize silages. Reducing wastage once silage is opened is vital, and awarding approvals for reducing aerobic losses in either grass, maize or grass and maize silages is a big step forward.

But change is on-going. This summers consultation on the future direction of the Forage Additive Approval Scheme has provoked plenty of thought in the industry.

While some changes may be in place for the 1999 scheme, most will appear in the list issued in 2000. That millennium list will be a result of increasingly rigorous assessments, perhaps approving fewer, but more soundly proven, products.

The move to invite a farmer – who, after all, is the consumer – and a representative to reflect the views of ADAS, SAC or DANI to join the approvals committee is welcome. For several years, lack of scheme independence has been a key concern, and one which has rightly been addressed.

The key organisations involved in the schemes practicalities – ADAS, SAC and DANI – have been left to make many decisions about the future of the scheme.

How tough should assessments be? Should more trials be carried out before approval is given? What about separate lists for different types of silages? Should categories A and B – detailing animal performance, intake, digestibility and efficiency of energy or protein use – be merged?

Adopting tougher assessments and tightening monitoring standards must be good moves for producers. Increasing financial pressure on the livestock industry means any additive must consistently prove its worth. All three organisations play a crucial role in ensuring farmers get the best value for money and can be safe in the knowledge that their cash has been spent on a sure winner.

The opportunity to develop a top-notch scheme which can lead the way in Europe is there. Let us hope that opportunity is grasped.