The Importance Of Testing Your Forage


By Brandon Redmond

Jerome, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) AgSource Laboratories in Jerome does a variety of testing for the agriculture community. But this time of year there's one particular type of testing that is keeping them busy.

"At our lab we actually do a number of different things. One of our largest ones is feed and forage services," said Katy Starr with AgSource Laboratories.

Forage testing is important in the Gem state. Hay and forage combine to create over a one billion dollar industry in the state of Idaho.

"And it supports the dairy industry and beef and sheep, the livestock industry, so it's critical for them. And forage quality is important to know the proper animal to allocate a particular lot of forage too and to predict it's feeding value," said Glenn Shewmaker with the University of Idaho Extension Office.

In order to properly test your forage, you have to get a good sample.

"We like a hay probe and using a national forage testing association protocol that stipulates how many samples are to be taken and how," said Glenn Shewmaker with the University of Idaho Extension Office.

And during drought years, forage testing becomes even more important.

"Especially when forages are in a drought situation, it's important to test for nitrates," said Shewmaker.

AgSource has two different ways to test your forage samples.

"Mainly with our feed and forage testing, the nice thing that we have is we run an NIR machine as well as a wet chemistry lab. The NIR is near Infrared. And that's built upon a database that we've been developing for thirty years in this region. So how we do the wet chemistry sampling is how the NIR database is built," said Katy Starr.