Maryland Forages Program
Certified Forage Testing Laboratories
Laboratory analyses are important for the evaluation of nutritive value in forages. Hay growers and livestock owners are encouraged to use forage testing as a management tool to improve forage production practices and feed efficiency. But how do you know which laboratories provide accurate and reliable results?
The National Forage Testing Association (NFTA) was founded in 1984 not only to address this question but to also improve the accuracy of forage testing among laboratories. The mission of the NFTA is to improve the accuracy and reproducibility of laboratory analyses that are important for the evaluation of nutritive value in forages. Accuracy can only be determined by comparing results to a reference value that can be defined unambiguously. The NFTA uses a certification testing (check sample) program to provide an unbiased assessment of the accuracy and reproducibility among participating laboratories. Proficiency is measured on check sample results of dry matter, crude protein, acid detergent fiber, and neutral detergent fiber.
NFTA is a joint effort of the American Forage and Grassland Council (AFAC), the National Hay Association (NHA), and forage testing laboratories. It is governed by a 12-member board of directors. Six directors represent laboratories, three represent AFGC, and three represent NHA.
Since its formation, reproducibility of lab results among laboratories has dramatically improved. Various lab methods have been reviewed and improved. Over 150 laboratories annually participate in the certification process. Laboratories are evaluated six times a year. Performance grades are provided to laboratories to allow them to better evaluate their testing procedures and methods.
The NFTA certified laboratories have proven the ability to produce accurate test results on recognized reference methods. We have one certified lab in Maryland, that being Cumberland Valley Analytical Services near Hagerstown. Contact information for Cumberland Valley and other labs that routinely process Maryland samples is listed below:
The complete list of certified labs can be found at http://www.foragetesting.org.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Lester Vough
Forage Crops Extension Specialist