Can Grassland Chemical Quality Be Quantified Using Transform Near-Infrared Spectroscopy?
Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry (DAGRI), University of Florence, 50144 Florence, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Guillermo Ripoll and Markku Saastamoinen
Received: 9 November 2021
Revised: 18 December 2021
Accepted: 21 December 2021
Published: 31 December 2021
Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has been applied to analyse the quality of forage and animal feed. However, grasslands more than other raw materials are linked to many variability factors (e.g., site, year, occurring species, etc.) that can represent strong points as well as weak points in NIRS estimation. This research is aimed at testing NIRS application for the determination of chemical characteristics of fresh, undried and unground samples of meadows and grasslands located in north-central Apennine. The interest lies in the possibility of monitoring grassland resources, supporting the decision in terms of the need of supplementation and identifying the critical periods for cutting grassland intended for animal feeding. The results indicated that FT-NIRS models could be used in the real-time quantification of crude protein, fibrous fraction and dry matter, while for lignin only a screening test could be considered. Minor components of grassland such as ash and lipids need improvement. As a practical point, a key factor of FT-NIRS in grassland chemical quality estimation is the absence of samples preparation and the importance of the parameters that have obtained the best results in animal diet formulation.