Does a NIR system provide low-cost alternative to on-farm feed and forage testing? A Techno-economic analysis

Rosentrater, Kurt
Ramaswamy, Sai
Rosentrater, Kurt
Mosher, Gretchen
Mosher, Gretchen
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Food Science and Human NutritionCenter for Crops Utilization ResearchAgricultural and Biosystems EngineeringEnvironmental ScienceSustainable EnvironmentsCenter for Crops Utilization Research

Improperly balanced diet not only impacts the quality of animal products but also the quantity of profits of a livestock operation. Typically, the nutrient and chemical content of feed ingredients and forages are determined using well-established wet chemistry tests. However, these tests can be expensive and time-consuming. Moreover, the increasing use of distiller’s by-products which are known to have large variations in chemical and nutrient content warrants a real-time on-farm feed and forage testing system. Near Infra-Red (NIR) spectroscopy systems have been documented as a quick and effective on-site testing tool across several industries. While NIR systems are being adopted for on-farm feed and forage testing, very little is known about the economic impacts of such an investment for a livestock operator. This study developed a baseline model and an excel based spreadsheet application for performing Return On Investment (ROI) analysis to determine the feasibility of using an on-farm NIR testing system. ROI was calculated based on the nutrient cost saved or spent determined from the difference of estimated nutrient content and actual calculated value. Assumptions were made for the cost of NIR system, calibration and labor expenses. What-if analyses were also performed to determine the impact of variation in nutrient content on the ROI. The finding of this study will help promote low-cost alternatives for on-farm feed and forage testing, thus positively impacting the quality of animal product and minimizing costs.


This proceeding is published as Ramaswamy, Sai K., Kurt A. Rosentrater, and Gretchen A. Mosher. "Does a NIR system provide low-cost alternative to on-farm feed and forage testing? A Techno-economic analysis." In 2016 ASABE Annual International Meeting, p. 1. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 2016. doi: 10.13031/aim.20162460992. Posted with permission.