28 February 1997

Trialling changes to meet demands

NATIONAL and recommended list trialling systems are likely to change to meet demands of changing farm practice and an improved understanding of intake potential.

Aberdeen-based SAC grassland expert John Weddell said the current testing system was geared towards grass production rather than quality characteristics which influence palatability and intake. "Currently, routine quality assessment is restricted to digestibility. Further progress requires a better understanding of intake, a clear definition of what affects palatability and inexpensive, reliable methods of identifying and quantifying improvements in nutritional quality," explained Mr Weddell.

But improvements in the testing system could be underway this summer, if MAFF gives its approval for mid-summer sampling, said NIABs Jim McVittie.

"Sampling into mid-summer should give a more accurate idea of mid-season quality," he said.

SACs John Weddell… Current testing system geared to gross production rather than quality.