A new method of testing silage has been made available to British farmers, which has opened up possibilities for greater insight into ruminant nutrition.
Using the new analytical method, silage samples are dried and ground before being scanned, leading to more accurate results than from traditional wet methods.
The latest developments in silage analysis, used elsewhere in the world, have not previously been widely available in the UK
To their detriment, British farmers seeking to maximise yields have therefore had a dearth of choice when it comes to accessing innovations.
Isobel Daley, managing director of Eurofins Agro, said: “Improving silage and optimising rations, in turn increasing yields and minimising costs, is more crucial than ever, so any advances in best practice can only be a good thing.”
Until recently, British farmers have only had ready access to analysis of fresh forage samples, using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS).
NIRS works by irradiating a sample with a near-infrared light. The resulting reflection provides information on the nutritional composition of samples, when compared against a database of reference values.
Using the new analytical method, silage samples are dried and ground before being scanned by NIRS equipment, resulting in a number of benefits over wet NIRS analysis.
Isobel added: “Drying a sample first removes the moisture, which can act like a ‘fog’, distorting the reflection and compromising accuracy.
“The grinding process then converts samples into a powder-like state, giving a more homogenous sample, which in turn gives more accurate, reliable and repeatable results.”
Key to the success of any NIRS approach is the size and specificity of the database used. The dried and ground scan is interrogated against more extensive databases covering a greater range of material types. These databases are updated and expanded constantly to reflect the changing nature of silage over time.
Eurofins Agro supports farmers, feed companies and agricultural consultants through the provision of analytical testing of forage, hay, and other feedstuffs.
For more information or to download Eurofins’ guide to forage analysis, visit www.eurofins.co.uk/agro, email AgroTesting@eurofins.co.ukor call 0845 604 6740.