Take Forage Sample To Husker Harvest Days For Nitrate Testing

UNL building at HHD will have rapid test for forages while you're at the show.

Published on: Aug 28, 2013

Cattle producers are asking if drought has harmed crops and other forages, particularly high nitrate levels.

To find out for sure, take samples with you to this year's Husker Harvest Days west of Grand Island, Sept. 10-12. In its building on the show site, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension specialists will conduct nitrate testing of cattle forages,

The free rapid testing will be available at the university's building during the event.

"If you are concerned that drought has damaged crops or other forages and want to know if the nitrate level is too high to feed, UNL extension can address these concerns," says Matt Luebbe, assistant professor of animal science.

Take Forage Sample To Husker Harvest Days For Nitrate Testing
Take Forage Sample To Husker Harvest Days For Nitrate Testing

To have forage tested, producers collect a representative sample of the feedstuff they are concerned with and drop off samples. Producers should choose samples that represent the greatest risk level, Luebbe says. The samples can be tested while producers enjoy other exhibits.

"With the rapid test, we can usually determine if high nitrate levels exist within 1-2 minutes. After that we can quantify the amount of nitrates within an hour if the preliminary test is positive," he says. "If we determine your feedstuffs are high in nitrates, there will be UNL beef extension personnel available to help you to tailor a feeding program that fits your needs and resources available."

Luebbe adds that he does not think many forages will have elevated nitrate levels because the weather-related stresses this year are not as widespread as they were in 2012.

Although the tests are not as comprehensive as those done by commercial labs, Luebbe says, results will help feeders decide how to feed these forages, or if additional commercial tests are necessary.

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