Forage tests move

5 October 2001

Forage tests move

MORE reliable forage analysis results are promised by a new voluntary feed industry initiative to standardise testing in different labs, helping improve the accuracy of winter rations.

The Forage Analysis Assurance (FAA) group aims to ensure consistency of silage analysis between labs. It says the move is prompted by developments in analysis techniques and a decline in producer confidence.

Jonathan Blake, technical secretary of the FAA, says the 1990s saw a move to near infrared scanning (NIR) techniques on wet silages. "Many labs developed their own techniques, leading to differences in results. This was highlighted by a farmers weekly survey which showed unacceptable variation in key parameters, such as crude protein and ME."

The FAA started work in early 2000 to establish a common quality control scheme across all member labs. It has developed a series of standards to minimise variation analysis results.

Consistency will be monitored by regular ring tests, when the same silage is analysed by all members. Any lab producing outlying results has to rectify the problem or face expulsion from the scheme, adds Dr Blake.

The group has focused on the most important components of silage and currently covers dry matter, crude protein, pH, NDF, lactic acid, D-value and potential intake. Further measures will be added as the scheme develops.

"Our goal is to restore confidence, so producers can view forage analyses as a wise investment rather than an avoidable cost."

FAA members include ADAS, ARINI, Carrs Billington Agriculture, Central Laboratories, FBA Laboratories, Frank Wright, NRM, NWF Agriculture, Promar International, Massey Brothers, Rumenco and SAC. &#42

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