ExtraMIR (Extra value from- smart use of-MIR spectra)

ExtraMIR is an IDF/ICAR joint project with the overall goal to offer a more complete and deeper understanding of the activities related to the use of Mid Infrared (MIR) spectra in the dairy sector.

MIR-spectra have been used to analyze milk components since the 1980s. Today, advanced analytical techniques and powerful data processing tools allow additional value to be derived from the MIR spectral information. As of today, a broad variety of equations exists allowing the prediction of traits related to the chemical composition of milk, the nutritional quality of milk, the ration quality of the cows´ feed, animal health and welfare indicators, the environmental fingerprint of milk production, the technological properties of milk as well as the detection of “abnormal milk”. However, many of those equations are not applied in field yet. So, the question arises: “Why is there such a huge gap between results of research and application in the field?”.

IDF and ICAR joint structure

As research and applied projects are dynamically evolving, it is clear that there is a strong need for harmonization and standardization of terminology, analytical procedures, and tools for quality assurance. As almost all parts and stakeholders of the dairy food chain are affected by these technological developments, IDF and ICAR are joining in structuring the current activity, offer a forum for exchange and cooperation, and harmonize and standardize definitions, methods, and procedures for the dairy sector globally.

IDF and ICAR have decided to join their efforts by creating the joint Action Team ExtraMIR to work on this issue. The objective of ExtraMIR can be summarized as follows:

  1. Improve the communication about the prediction equations available and their potentialities in practical use;
  2. Offer a platform to compare the predictions given by different equations predicting the same trait;
  3. Offer a platform to validate models;
  4. Propose guidelines to standardize the spectral data;


This work was presented during the IDF/ISO Analytical Week – Constance, Germany on 27 April, 11.00 to 12.30 (CET), chaired by Dr. Christian Baumgartner

Link to slides  –  Link to recording  –  Highlights 

ExtraMIR topics

  • As models derived from MIR spectra are partly referring to complex functional traits, there is a strong need to find a suitable way to anchor the outcome of the models to a sound reference.
Quality Assurance
  • Experience shows that actual QA procedures are not sufficient to obtain the best quality of spectra; thus, there is a need to find options to standardize and stabilize instruments.
  • As well, tools must be developed to verify the equivalence of the information obtained in the different areas of the globe for the same functional trait with different models.
  • There is a need to explain what type of information is delivered by statistical models using MIR spectra. Still the nature of information as a prediction (what compound in what concentration, probability of presence or absence of a substance, shaping or markedness of a functional trait) is not understood in many cases.
  • Agreement should be reached on what references to use, how to standardize them, and what data to use for models based on MIR spectra.
  • It is necessary to standardize the terminology used, as there are some misunderstandings currently.
  • Furthermore, the way to present the information coming from MIR spectra-based models should be simplified, standardized, and explained extensively to combine and connect science with practice.
  • ExtraMIR should set up an expert group to facilitate the creation of information and its appropriate presentation.

ICAR, Arthur van Schendelstraat 650, 3511 MJ Utrecht, The Netherlands - Email: icar@icar.org