AFIA Proficiency Testing Program
The Australian Fodder Industry Association – AFIA Proficiency Testing Program was developed so that feed testing labs (both commercial and research) who wished to participate could understand how the accuracy of their feed test calibrations related to the average of the other participating labs across the country. All the participating labs receive the same feed samples, analyse each sample and report the results back to AFIA. The lab then receives a copy of their results and ranks each of the test parameters against a mean or average of the wet chemistry results. Until recently, the proficiency test results have not been made publicly available, and farmers and research organisations using a laboratory for their testing requirements have not known how accurate their results have been.
Principally, laboratories have been operating in isolation, investing heavily in calibration development and improving the accuracy of the results they give. Some time ago, AFIA published a laboratory reference manual allowing all labs to prepare and analyse samples in a similar fashion with the view to reduce variation and improve accuracy in the results. For labs that don’t have wet chemistry facilities, the strength of their calibrations is only as good as the wet chemistry lab that they base their NIR predictions on. Publishing the proficiency testing results allows farmers to choose a feed testing laboratory based on accuracy of the results they report. Labs are assigned a grade which is related to the accuracy and repeatability of their feed test predictions. The value of such a reporting method is that farmers can choose what lab they wish to use based on the accuracy of that labs results. Be sure to use a reputable laboratory and preferably one that is participating in this proficiency testing program and continually trying to improve their calibration accuracy for the benefit of the end user.