THERE has been a generally smooth transition to a new era of wool selling in WA. The separate introduction of Laserscan test results on wool test certificates, and voluntary declarations on wool purity at sales this month have presented wool buyers with a new range of information on WA wool. The move to Laserscan test results is one of the first responses made by the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) following woolgrower calls to the McLachlan inquiry. AWTA western region manager Ian Ashman said he was generally pleased with the endorsement of Laserscan results by the trade, despite some initial caution about the presentation of the new data. Laserscan testing replaces airflow testing, which has been used as the industry standard for wool testing since 1972. The Laserscan tests will provide extra fineness distribution data on all wool sale lots, including coefficient of variation in diameter, comfort factor and mean fibre curvature, as well as the mean fibre diameter tests previously carried out by airflow testing. AWTA says Laserscan was chosen for superior accuracy, speed and reliability, and lower testing costs. There is a small difference in test results between Laserscan and airflow, with Laserscan testing 0.1 micron broader on most fleece wools, but up to a full micron broader on lambswool. Mr Ashman said, while there had been some initial alarm from growers about the difference in tests, the variation was well known and recognised by the trade, with many processors using Laserscan machines on their production lines. "It's still the same wool ‹ the wool hasn't changed," he said. "Buyers and processors have a strong knowledge about the difference and have previously made allowances for it." Another new document at wool sales this financial year has been the interim introduction of a voluntary vendor declaration to identify wool from Merino sheep that may have come into contact with other exotic sheep breeds. The move follows processor concerns about contamination from exotic fibres in Merino wool lots. Last month, the Wool Strategy Group (WSG) called an industry meeting to develop an interim identification method to prevent any damage to WA's reputation as a supplier of Merino wool. WSG chairman Phil Gardiner said the result was a vendor declaration which brokers, exporters and private treaty merchants agreed satisfied the requirements of the trade in WA. "The Australian Wool Exchange is working on implementing a new Code of Practice that will address contamination from medullated and pigmented fibres of Merino wool across Australia in 2001," he said. The interim vendor declaration is voluntary, and will state that to the best of the producer's knowledge, their wool consignment has not come into contact with exotic sheep breeds.