The history of the NIRSC is really the history of NIRS analysis. We grew out of leaders in a new industry using near-infrared spectroscopy to analyze forages and feeds. The first NIR spectrum was recorded in 1800, but it wasn't until 1939 that NIRS was described in scientific literature and not until 1968 that NIRS was first applied to agricultural products by Karl Norris and colleagues with the USDA Instrumentation Research Laboratory in Beltsville, MD. In 1976 Norris predicted CP, NDF, and ADF of forages using NIRS.
At the same time in the mid 1970's, John S. Shenk and colleagues built a mobile van for on-farm analysis and at hay auctions and enhanced a computer system calling it the spectro analyser. This was really the breakthrough in combining NIRS testing equipment with computer systems to collect data as well as for calibration development. Then in 1983 John S. Shenk formed Infrasoft International LLC, a software company that became the standard format used for NIRS analysis.
In the early 1980's several universities implemented mobile NIRS testing van programs to test forage quality and balance livestock diets at hay auctions. Then in 1987 the University of Minnesota initiated a project to review lab variation in NIRS analysis. This was a groundbreaking concept to acknowledge that laboratory standardization for NIRS was important. From 1990 to 1992 first a pilot evaluation of networked NIRS instruments by a Minnesota and Wisconsin Laboratory Extension project with John S. Shenk and then a steering committee were established to organize the NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium. At this time the goals were to standardize instruments, match instrumentation and software, and develop standard operating procedures for users. The mission statement was: The NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium is dedicated to increasing the accuracy and knowledge of NIRS forage testing. This was an expansive and inclusive goal that set out to unify the forage testing industry using NIRS and to aid producers, researchers, and nutritionists in advancing reliability of the technology.
The NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium (NIRSC) was incorporated in 1998, bylaws adopted, and a Board of Directors established. Then in 2002 the group was established as a tax exempt, non-profit organization under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code.
From this time we have continued to work to standardize NIRS testing and to encompass new technology. We are an association of commercial laboratories, universities, government groups, plant research entities, and instrument companies. Our consortium collaborates together to unify knowledge, accuracy, and application of NIRS technology. Laboratories share in efforts and costs to produce standardized calibrations for use. We also carry out programs to help and support our members in use of calibrations and instrumentation.
The NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium leverages and unifies the efforts and knowledge of its members and collaborating experts to create and promote the basis for rapid and accurate analysis results to return value and benefits to its members, the NIRS community, and the public.