Wednesday, 12 February 2020 11:10

New ryegrass ‘boosts production, reduces methane’

Written by  Staff Reporters
Germinal New Zealand general manager Sarah Gard. Germinal New Zealand general manager Sarah Gard.

A new higher-fat variety of ryegrass could help farmers boost production while lowering methane emissions, says agricultural seed company Germinal.

It has partnered with the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) in Wales to develop ryegrass with an increased lipid (fat) content.

The objective is to make the feed more energy-dense, improving milk production in dairy cows and growth rates in beef and sheep, it says.

The grass is being developed using conventional plant breeding methods, with no gene editing or modification required.

“Lipids, in other words fats and oils, have roughly double the energy value of carbohydrates for the same weight,” says Germinal New Zealand general manager Sarah Gard.

“We’ve known for a long time that adding fats – up to a certain level – increases animal productivity. But non-pasture feed supplements are generally expensive, which can offset any gains in milk solids or revenue.

“However, if the pasture has higher concentrations of lipids, the grazing animal naturally has a high intake without the need for supplements. Stock will get extra fats directly from the grass.”

The ryegrass is being developed alongside Wales scientists.

Germinal hopes to breed ryegrass with a lipid concentration of 5% – double that found in current varieties.

The benefits could also extend beyond animal performance, with lab tests indicating that high lipid grass can mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The work being done at IBERS has shown that increasing the lipid content of grass reduces methane emissions from ruminant livestock, by changing rumen fermentation patterns and breaking down protein more efficiently,” says Sarah.

“We hope to extend this work in the near future by feeding sheep with high lipid grass and then measuring how much methane they produce.”

More like this

2020 harvest yields up

Final harvest data for wheat, barley and oats (milling/malting and feed) in 2020 show yields were up 17% overall across the six crops.

Limited feed puts ewes at risk

Severe feed shortages in parts of the country mean many ewes are on a nutritional knife-edge heading into lambing and could be at risk of developing metabolic disorders.

Feed the most critical factor

Maintaining ewes in good body condition and the provision of shelter are two important management factors in maximising this year’s lamb crop.

Benefits of winter grazing

Dairy farmers Sietze Feenstra and Simone Bouwmeester are enthusiastic about the future of wintering dairy cows on crop.

Carbon zero milk

Fonterra has joined forces with a supermarket chain to deliver what it claims is NZ’s first carbon zero milk.

Featured

Water reforms come at a cost

The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.

2020 harvest yields up

Final harvest data for wheat, barley and oats (milling/malting and feed) in 2020 show yields were up 17% overall across the six crops.

 

Difficult but the right call

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the joint decision three years ago to eradicate Mycoplamsa bovis was a difficult call.

Milking cluster milks runner-up award

DeLaval has come away with the runner up prize in this year’s Fieldays Online innovation competition with a new milking cluster that eliminates the need for conventional liner changes.

Glow worms to cows

Thomas Lundman's work focus has gone from tracking tiny critters in pitch black caves to looking after considerably larger animals in paddocks near Whakatane.

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Spell check

Your old mutt was not surprised to see the NZ Dairy Industry Awards hastily remove the title of this year’s…

About time!

Your canine crusader has been a long-time critic of NZ governments – of all stripes – who, for the past…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter