Near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy for forage nutritive value analysis in sub-Saharan African countries

Mulubrhan Balehegn, Padmakumar Varijakshapanicker, Nouhoun Zampaligré, Michael Blummel, Augustine A. Ayantunde, Chris Jones, V. Prasad, Alan Duncan, Mesfin Dejene, Adegbola T. Adesogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Limited supply of quality feed is the most common problem limiting livestock productivity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Routine feed evaluation is indispensable for formulating balanced rations, feed characterization, safety, and minimizing the environmental impact of livestock. Traditional wet chemistry has not met this demand in SSA because it is time consuming, expensive, reliant on imported reagents and equipment that requires regular maintenance. Near Infrared Reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) is a rapid and accurate alternative. NIRS can help meet the need to characterize locally available forages and feeds on the continent, thus allowing formulation of optimally balanced and safe rations, facilitating establishment of nutritive value-based pricing, and improving feed marketing and environmental stewardship. Though several NIRS systems have been purchased in many SSA countries, few are currently used. Reasons include high upfront costs, lack of requisite technical capacity, lack of access to comprehensive wet chemistry-based databases to develop and validate robust and accurate predictive equations, lack of access to or relevance of existing validated equations, and limited awareness about the value of NIRS. Recently developed portable devices can dramatically reduce cost, while providing flexibility and comparable accuracy to benchtop systems. Formation of NIRS consortia and communities of practice including public-private partnerships that link equipment, pool resources, and provide periodic training and troubleshooting, can address many of these problems. This paper elaborates the potential for using NIRS to improve feed analysis in SSA countries, the reasons for the low use of existing systems, and strategies to improve the adoption and use of NIRS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2022;114:100–114
Pages (from-to)100 - 114
Number of pages14
JournalAgronomy Journal
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


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