Mobile test for silage quality launched by AB Vista

AB Vista has launched a new mobile device for testing silage quality which, it says, is not just new to the Irish market, but the first of its kind in the world.

The multinational feed ingredients company says that silage quality is a huge determinant in dairy cow energy levels.

The new product is a handheld Near Infra-red Reflectance device (NIR4 farm) and allows farmers to test silage quality on farm, without the need to send samples to laboratories.

Technical Sales Manager with AB Vista Martin McConnell says the NIR allows immediate analysis of silage on the farm.

“The NIR allows users to make very precise and accurate decision in terms of the silage quality, which means farmers can save time and money.”

He said that portability of the device means farmers can test silage through the season and change the dietary requirements as needed.

“We recommend five readings of silage at a time and the device then will highlight any differences in the samples taken. If you send the silage off to a lab you get one reading.

“We also recommend testing for silage quality on a regular basis, as a pit can change in various parts. A month into a pit you could get a totally different reading from what you might have initially got and this can affect energy values and the diet make up.”

One farmer, he said, saw protein levels jump from 11% at one point in the pit to 15% a month later.

“This meant we have to make adjustments to the diet, which actually brought costs down, but it also meant performance was not affected.”

Ideal protein levels in silage, he said, should be in the range of 12-15% in Ireland, while DMD should be at least 70.

Last year many Irish farmers found that silage quality was significantly below par after first cut silage was of poor quality.

Low dry matter levels and high Nitrate levels in grass at time of cutting combined to dramatically reduce forage quality and palatability.