A new method of testing silage has been made available to Scottish farmers which can open up possibilities for greater insight into ruminant nutrition.

Using the new analytical method, silage samples are dried and ground before being scanned using near-infrared spectroscopy, leading to more accurate results than from traditional wet methods, according to Eurofins Agro Testing.

The latest development – which is widely used elsewhere in the world – has not previously been widely available to farmers in the UK, who have only had ready access to analysis of fresh forage samples assessed by NIRS.

NIRS works by irradiating a sample with a near-infrared light and the resulting reflection provides information on the nutritional composition of samples, compared against a database of reference values.

As well as the introduction of dried and ground NIRS, Eurofins Agro Testing UK has partnered with Consumer Physics to launch an advanced on-farm feed analysis solution, which it said complemented the more extensive testing undertaken in the lab.

This enables farmers and nutritionists to analyse dry matter of a variety of silage types in less than a minute, allowing them to troubleshoot variations, adjust rations based on real time data and ensure consistent dry matter across time. Farmers can test dry matter daily and adjust for rain or snow events as they happen.

Isobel Daley, managing director of Eurofins Agro UK, 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. The new NIRS method gives farmers crucial insight into their dry matter which allows them to make more informed decisions when it comes to silage.”