Overhaul aims to revive forage additive scheme
By James Garner
DISCREDITED and disowned by many, UKASTAs forage additive scheme has re-invented itself in a tougher guise.
New forage additive approval systems will be in place from this year to try to ensure the process is more rigorous and re-instate the scheme with some credibility.
Following several years of rubbishing by the trade, Forage Additive Approval Scheme (FAAS) chairman Peter Hooper told an open meeting of UKASTA members at Stoneleigh, Warks, last week, that the scheme had to evolve.
Faltering market conditions – additive use is down by 15-25% – means it is more important for the trade to support FAAS to help grow the additive market, he said.
Three main changes hope to improve the schemes presentation and rigour, said assessment panel chairman Cled Thomas, SAC, Ayr.
"Words have replaced letters as category headings. A, B and C were headings that nobody understood. These are replaced by words relating to each category – animal and silo."
Previous categories A and B will now be amalgamated to form one group – animal. These include all five categories previously in A and B, such as liveweight gain, milk yield, intake and digestibility.
The former category C – now silo – includes fermentation, reducing effluent, cutting ensiling losses and improving aerobic stability.
The committee believes a move to two categories makes the system more comprehensible, but it also necessitates a change in procedure.
Three trials of statistical significance will be required for approval under an animal category, rather than one. Dr Hooper believed two trials demonstrating a marked response in animal performance would be enough for a new forage additive to gain approval.
The third major change is minimum requirements which products must meet to demonstrate an improvement in animal performance. To gain approval an additive must improve liveweight gain by 0.9kg/day; milk production by one/litre/day; intake by 8% and digestibility by 2.5 units.
Prof Thomas said this would tighten up trials which could show a statistical significance with little animal performance gain.
It should give more confidence in the results and benefits of using an additive, said Dr Hooper. "It may be more onerous for companies, but many approvals already take three studies to gain acceptance."
However, an increase in trial work met with some disagreement from the audience. Jem Clay of Alltech UK said it could act as a barrier to entry, stifling innovation, which would not benefit producers.
But Dr Hooper said: "You cannot market a product claiming it increases milk yield by a litre a day on the evidence of one trial only."
Under the re-launched scheme, products approved under the old FAAS system retain their status under the new one.
Dr Hooper said most products accepted under the old system meet the new criteria of approval, despite being an issue some members of the audience felt strongly about.
Ecosyl Products sales manager Robert Goodhead said to be credible only products that met new criteria should be carried forward.
Rebuffing criticism, Dr Hooper said a high percentage of old products meet new standards. "Perhaps a rule ensuring products are re-registered after 10 years on the list should be considered."
• The UKASTA forage additive product list will appear in farmers weekly on Nov 19. *
• 1999 register in new format.
• Animal and silo categories.
• Tougher monitoring.