08/11/22 |   Agroindustry  Fisheries and aquaculture  Research, Development and Innovation

Technology makes tenfold cut in cost of fish feed quality analysis

Enter multiple e-mails separated by comma.

Photo: Gisele Rosso

Gisele Rosso - With NIR, it is possible to quickly and confidently verify feed composition

With NIR, it is possible to quickly and confidently verify feed composition

  • Calibration models developed by Embrapa were adapted for a NIR (near infrared) spectrometer, by Büchi Brazil, for the analysis of fish feed nutritional quality parameters.
  • The estimated cost of an analysis through traditional methods is R$ 200, in light of the amount of reagents and man power required. With NIR spectroscopy, it drops to about R$ 20, ten times less.
  • The new method allows for analysis results in less than a minute, does not use chemical reagents and does not generate waste for the environment.
  • The models were developed based on the elaboration of a database that was representative of Brazilian conditions, which comprises over 200 feed samples by different producers and from different regions, and varied fish species at different stages of development.
  • Offering feed factories and analysis laboratories access to a cheaper high-performance technology favors higher control of product quality, with positive impacts on the production chain.
  • The research is part of the BRS Aqua project, funded by Embrapa, the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and Minitry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (Mapa)..
  • The forecast is that the technology will be available for adoption from the next year on.


Laboratories that work with fish feed sample analysis will have a new technology that reduces the cost of this process by ten times in comparison with the cost of verifications through classical methods. The technology provides quick results, does not use chemical reagents and does not generate waste for the environment.

The novelty resulted from the incorporation of the calibration models developed by Embrapa Southeastern Livestock in equipment used by factories or laboratories to analyze different reference parameters for the nutritional quality of fish feed. They were adapted in this case for benchtop near infrared (NIR) spectrometers by the Brazilian branch of Büchi, a Swiss multinational that partnered with Embrapa for the technical validation of the models. 

According to Mariana Dias (on the left), a technical coordinator at Büchi, the currently estimated cost of an analysis through traditional methods is around R$ 200. Through NIR spectroscopy the predicted cost is much cheaper: about R$ 20 for the maintenance of the equipment and the exchange of consumables. That is a significant fall, ten times lower. Time is another considerable factor. With the classical methods, the result can take up to ten days. Using the models developed for the Embrapa, the analyses are concluded in less than a minute.

Dias explains that the high cost of the traditional procedures is due to the large quantity of reagents used in the process and to the cost of labor, given the time spent performing individualized analyses for each parameter. “There is also the generated waste, which requires treatment before disposal. That is an extra cost to be calculated, on top of the environmental one.” 


Fish feed factories will be able to count on the NIR spectroscopy method for the analysis and control of their processes, following the example of other segments like the ones for foods, drugs and chemicals. According to Avelardo Ferreira (on the right), an analyst at Embrapa who coordinated the research, this technology is not only trending but is also quite comprehensive. In fact, it is already used in the field of medicine to diagnose diseases. 

"In this case, the models were developed in the course of two years, based on the elaboration of a database that comprises over 200 samples from different regions and manufacturers, and varied fish species at different stages of development - fry, youngling and fattening. This way, we obtained models of feed for fish that are representative of the Brazilian reality”, Ferreira reports.

According to Hermann Schumacher (on the left),director-general of Büchi Brazil, the aim of the project in partnership with Embrapa is to improve the production efficiency of fish feed manufacturing, through an efficient and sustainable control process, using last generation technology.

“Combining Embrapa's vast knowledge on the agricultural sector with the technological excellency of Büchi's equipment resulted in a robust, reliable and easy-to-operate product that was conceived to make the monitoring and quality control routine of producing fish feed a simple process, in real time”, Schumacher states.


Schumacher and Ferreira discuss the importance of the technology


For the director, the multinational's ProxiMate technology, which was added to the pre-calibration for bromatological analyses of fish feed, is currently the most modern that there is in terms of NIR spectroscopy in the world's aquaculture. “It will certainly be a landmark for Brazilian aquaculture and will decisively contribute to the development and sustainability of the sector”, he asserts. A bromatological analysis of a food allows the verification of its chemical composition, properties and nutritional value, as well as other information.

Impacts of the technology

Factories and laboratories with access to a high-performance and cheaper technology, which can stay in the production line, will have the chance to perform a higher number of collections and analyses. Avelardo Ferreira believes that hence there will be higher quality control of the products, with positive impacts on the production chain.

Tarcila de Castro Silva (on the right), a researcher at Embrapa Western Agriculture and leader of the BRS Aqua project action Nutrition and Feed BRS Aqua (see box below), states that feed is an important factor in fish farming because it contributes to most of the production costs. It even represents over 80% of expenses in fish production.

According to the researcher, any improvement or quality assurance can have impacts on productivity and consequently on the environment. A diet that is balanced specifically for each bred species entails better meat conversion and less waste in the environment. 

“The fish grow more and more healthily. Then farmers gain more, which ensures the continuity of the activity. Without NIR, the feed is often sold without ensuring it meets safety levels in its composition. With the spectrometer, in addition to the analysis of raw materials, the ready-to-sell feed can be assessed while still in the production line. It is a tool that can contribute a lot to the sector”, the researcher states.

The experiment

The research is part of the nutrition component of the BRS Aqua project, which targets the fish farming chain and is funded by Embrapa, the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (Mapa). According to Ana Rita Nogueira, an Embrapa researcher and deputy-leader of the project action Nutrition and Food, the obtained result will enable feed factories to perform the quality control of their products more often, more reliably and in a way that is adapted to Brazilian conditions.  

During the test stage, 184 fish feed samples from 14 distinct manufacturers were used. The aim of the experiment was to develop calibration models to predict the bromatological properties of feed regarding the conent of protein, fiber, lignin, dry matter, mineral matter, cellulose and ether extract. These parameters are important to evaluate the quality of the feed being produced. 

According to Avelardo Ferreira, the samples can be analyzed without the need for preparation like milling, for instance, which improves productivity and response time for the most important parameters for each product. 

For him, the development of a precise model was necessary to perform chemical analyses through traditional validated methods. A quite comprehensive and diverse set of samples was used to shape the modelling. “The correlation of the information generated robust calibrations, with reliable predictions that are representative of the Brazilian reality.”


Photo: Gisele Rosso (database with models)


Watch the video below about the calibration models for the nutritional quality analysis of fish feed:




Gisele Rosso (MTb 3.091/PR)
Embrapa Southeastern Livestock

Press inquiries

Phone number: +55 16 3411-5625

Translation: Mariana Medeiros (13044/DF)
Superintendency of Communications

Further information on the topic
Citizen Attention Service (SAC)

Image gallery

Find more news on: