The National Forage Testing Association (NFTA) has certified 12 forage testing labs.

NFTA was established in 1985 as a joint effort by the American Forage and Grasslands Council, the National Hay Association, and commercial forage testing laboratories to improve the repeatability and accuracy of forage testing labs.

“It's very important to choose a laboratory certified by NFTA,” said Dan Putnam, University of California Cooperative Extension Forage Specialist. “Lab values can be worth hundreds of dollars in the marketplace, and it all begins with high-quality scientifically-based lab methods. The NFTA program is the only independent test of lab performance available to the customer.”

The certified laboratories have met the NFTA proficiency standards for the analysis of moisture (or dry matter), crude protein (CP), acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) on six forage samples submitted to them during 2005. Laboratories may be certified in chemical analysis, NIR analysis or both. Additional laboratories may achieve certification during the year and will be added to the list when they meet the proficiency standards. The NFTA Web site also contains additional information on forages and forage sampling.

Volunteer effort

NFTA is an all-volunteer effort consisting of laboratories, hay growers, dairy producers, hay marketers, and university and USDA-ARS scientists to continually improve the quality of forage analysis.

“NFTA provides an opportunity for forage testing labs to assure their customers of high quality results,” said Dave Mertens, Research Dairy Scientist at USDA-ARS Madison, Wis. “There is a range in lab's abilities to report accurate and consistent results, and their results are highly dependent upon the standardization of their methods. Many labs do a great job while some do not.” There is no national or state regulation of forage testing, so NFTA offers a voluntary method for evaluating laboratory performance.

Approximately 150 laboratories from the U.S. and several foreign countries participate in the proficiency-testing program of the NFTA.

The NFTA certifies that laboratories have passed NFTA proficiency standards and allows them to claim NFTA proficiency certification and use an NFTA logo on their reports.

Here are the certified California labs:

A&L Western Agricultural, Modesto. Advanced Crop Technologies, Imperial.

Central Valley Lab, Tulare. Dairyland Lab, Inc./Valley Tech Ag Lab,
DANR Analytical Laboratory, Davis.
Denele Agri Link Analytical, Turlock.

Desert Valley Ag Services, Holtville. Hayworks Analytical, Dos Palos. Imperial Western Products, Coachella. JL Analytical Services, Modesto. Manna Pro General Laboratory, Fresno Sierra Testing Service, Acampo Stanworth Crop Consultants. Blythe.

The full list of certified laboratories nationwide is posted on the NFTA Web site, www.foragetesting.org.