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Use of portable NIR's to assess forage feed value

Solution name: Use of portable NIR’s to assess forage feed value

Aim: To assess in situ, on the farms, the nutritional content of the fodder used to feed ruminants in a rapid and precise way


Incorporate portable NIR technology for forage analysis as a useful tool for technical advice in ruminant rationing.

Nutritional assessment of the forages used to feed ruminants can be done at two times: i) at the time of harvesting using NIR equipment incorporated in the harvesting machine, ii) or once the forage has been conserved and stored at the farm, using  portable NIR equipment.


AURORA NIR portable we could highlight its high portability and manageability for use in the field.

The NIR CORONA EXTREME equipment incorporated to the combine harvester is a spectrophotometer with online capability.

The equipment has been installed on the forage discharge pipe of the combine harvester in its middle zone.

In addition, the equipment is connected to a tablet located in the cab, which allows observation of the variability of the different parameters.]







Topic: Nutrition

Production:  Dairy/Meat

Animal Category: All

Issue: Forage feed value

Level of Solution:  Practical

Country: Spain


How to implement

In the case of forage and silage samples from the farms, direct reading is made with the NIR, generating the corresponding spectra.

In the case of sampling with the harvester, the procedure consists of obtaining spectra at the moment of harvesting when the product goes through the discharge pipe.

Expected benefits

The technique developed allows the analysis of a high number of forage samples at the farm gate, fast, reliably and at a reasonable cost (in comparison to sending samples to a lab).

The greater agility in the analysis and valuation of forages allows to improve the efficiency of rationing and feed formulation in livestock farms, and to promote food self-sufficiency.

A balanced diet is a determining factor in the efficiency and economic and environmental sustainability of livestock farming.

The use of NIR technology in the combine harvester allows the farmer to get immediately knowledge about the quality of the forage, either if is purchased or produced on farm. For purchased forages, this technology could also be used by the producer, who could then send information with the characteristics of the forage to the buyer.

Cost Benefit analysis

The implementation of this solution aims to achieve better quality forages, and so higher lower feeding costs, higher feed self-sufficiency, and so, a higher margin upon feeding costs. For a average flock, it may means and additional gross benefit of 3600 €.

Sustainability analysis

The implementation of this solution aims to improve the quality of home-produced forages, and therefore should lead to a lower dependence from concentrates and feeding inputs from abroad, and so to decrease the associated negative impacts (deforestation, transport, etc.). Also, the utilisation of higher quality forages is related to an improvement in the digestibility and lower methane emissions from ruminant fermentation. Since less poor-quality forages are made, in the case of plastic bales, less waste is generated.
The implementation of this solution aims to achieve better quality forages, and so higher lower feeding costs, and therefore higher feed self-sufficiency. In the case of PDO or PGI food products, self-sufficiency is aligned with the fulfilment of the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 664/2014 of 18 December 2013. The production of higher quality forages helps to improve the animal welfare and health of ruminants. Also, since less poor-quality forages are used, the labour it requires to be removed, is avoided.

Prerequisites and/or limits
  • Traditional wet analysis of forage must be used as a reference to calibrate the portable NIR.
  • A sampling protocol is key for the NIR technique to achieve the desired and necessary accuracy.
  • The curves obtained need to be validated and, if necessary, updated.

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