Technical note: Improved methodology for analyses of acid detergent fiber and acid detergent lignin
Review articleOpen access

AbstractThe objective of this study was to evaluate the methodology of the acid detergent lignin (ADL) assay in an effort to evaluate particle loss, improve repeatability, and decrease variation within and among samples. The original ADL method relied on asbestos as a filtering aid, but that was removed in 1989 with the mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate asbestos in the environment. Furthermore, recent work on fiber methodology indicated that pore size in the Gooch sintered glass crucible (40–60 μm) was too large to trap all of the small particles associated with neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF). Thus, any loss of ADF could potentially result in a loss of ADL. Sixty forages including conventional and brown midrib corn silages, alfalfa silages and hays, mature grasses, early vegetative grasses, and 9 feces samples, were analyzed sequentially for ADF and ADL as outlined in the 1973 procedure of Van Soest except for the use of the asbestos fiber. A glass microfiber filter with a 1.5-μm pore size was chosen as a filtering aid because it met the criteria required by the assay: glass, heat resistant, acid resistant, chemically inert, and hydrophobic. To compare with the current ADF and ADL assays, the assays were conducted with either no filter or the glass filter inserted into crucibles, rinsed with acetone, and then according to the 1973 procedure of Van Soest. The samples analyzed covered a range from 18.11 to 55.79% ADF and from 0.96 to 9.94% ADL on a dry matter (DM) basis. With the use of the filter, the mean ADF values increased 4.2% and mean ADL values increased 18.9%. Overall, both ADF and ADL values were greater with the use of the glass microfiber filter than without, indicating that as the type of sample analyzed changed, use of the Gooch crucible without the filtering aid results in particle loss. The adoption of the use of a small pore size (1.5 μm) glass microfiber filter to improve filtration and recovery of ADF and ADL and to reduce variation in the ADL assay is recommended, especially when sintered glass bottom crucibles are used. These differences in recovery and repeatability have implications for other fiber and lignin methods, as well as for estimating the potential changes in digestibility of fibrous feeds and feed quality.

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