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Neal Martin of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center receives award

Published on 13 April 2012

Neal Martin, director of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wisconsin, received the first ever John S. Shenk Memorial Award from the NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium (NIRSC) for his 20 years of service to the organization. The award was presented at the NIRSC annual meeting on Feb. 15.

NIRSC works to promote accuracy, knowledge and application of near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) analysis through uniformity, standardization and good practices in order to bring excellence in forage and feed testing to the farmer.    

Martin was one of the founders of the NIRCS in 1992 when he was a forage extension specialist at the University of Minnesota. He served on the Board of Directors from 1998 through 2003 and he continues to be an advisor to the board.

Prior to the founding of the NIRSC, Martin helped bring NIRS feed testing technology to Minnesota farmers. He has been a strong advocate for standardization of instruments and calibrations in NIRS.

And, since becoming director of the U.S. Dairy forage Research Center (USDA-Agricultural Research Service) in 1999, he has supported the mission of the NIRSC by collaborating and encouraging scientists to study and use NIRS technology.

This new award was created in memory of John S. Shenk, a major developer of NIRS analysis in forages and feeds – originally as an agronomy professor at Penn State and later through his own company.

He developed software that became the standard for NIRS use in agricultural laboratories; he integrated NIRS hardware and software; he initiated a mobile van system which included sample processing and an NIRS unit to take the analysis to the farmer; and he recently introduced a portable hand-held instrument for farm use.

Shenk established the framework to standardize instruments and calibrations for charter member labs of NIRSC and continued to be a participant, mentor and contributor to organization until his death in 2011.  FG

—From NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium news release

Pictured is Tim Hoerner, NIRSC President (on left), presenting the award to Neal Martin (on right). Photo courtesy of NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium.