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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Improvements in the Analysis of Forage Crops, Feedstuffs and Feedstocks Via Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy Across Laboratories

Location: U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
To maintain a monitoring program of near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) Consortium member instruments and perform standardization of NIRS Consortium member instruments to facilitate transfer of calibation equations; (2) Refine and maintain a database of spectral and chemical information to be used to generate NIRS calibrations; (3) Identify samples that can be used to update NIRS calibrations for standard traits that describe the nutritional value of forages and fuel value of biomass feedstocks; (4) Update NIRS calibrations for the NIRS Consortium for (a) commercial laboratories, (b) alfalfa plant breeders, and (c) specialized groups (e.g., UCS); and (5) Conduct research on improved methods of local and global calibration of NIRS for novel traits, either of nutritional relevance or related to the use of forages as biomass feedstocks.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium (NIRSC) is an association of commercial laboratories, universities, government groups, plant research companies, and instrument companies. The consortium members collaborate to unify knowledge, instrument accuracy of component analysis, and application of NIRS technology for the analysis of forages, feeds, and feedstocks. The laboratories share in efforts and costs to produce standardized calibrations for use by members. The United States Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wisconsin, owns and maintains the master NIRS instrument (a Foss 6500) that has been used for the standardization of all of the NIRS instruments owned by members of the NIRSC. Both parties are interested in improving and extending the application of NIRS technology for rapid analysis of feed and forage samples for a wide variety of constituents pertinent to feeding livestock as well as assessing forages for other uses. This includes the improvement of calibrations for constituents that have long been analyzed by NIRS such as NDF and crude protein and the development of calibrations for new constituents as they are determined to be relevant for livestock diet formulation, forage breeding or the use of forages for biofuel or biochemical production.


3.Progress Report:

This agreement contributes to Objective 3 of the parent project: Determine how the interactions among dietary components influence product formation by ruminal microbes and implications for effects on digesta passage from the rumen, in order to optimize meeting animal nutrient requirements and enhancing animal performance.

An improved dust suppression system for the near-infrared spectrometer (NIRS) master instrument was installed to improve sample throughput and integrity and serve as a model for consortium members. Additionally, efforts were taken to improve the dust suppression system within the sample analysis room in order to maintain both operator comfort and sample integrity. During fiscal year 2013, instruments from ten member labs were standardized in addition to one new instrument platform. The database for tracking submitted spectra data and cataloging physical samples was separated from a new database used to track reference chemical data. Year to date, 1,913 samples have been received, of which 316 were submitted for additional analysis. Prior to the annual meeting of the Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Forage and Feed Testing Consortium (NIRSC), a group of consortium members visited the United States Dairy Forage Research Center (USDFRC). They toured the NIRS facilities and heard presentations about the USDFRC and progress on standardizing the analysis of neutral detergent fiber digestibility. During the Consortium's annual meeting, a USDFRC scientist presented talks on the inputs needed for dairy cattle nutrition models and on dietary starch analysis. These talks provided perspectives on potentially new characteristics that could be analyzed by NIRS.


Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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