Germinal’s perennial ryegrass AberGreen has become only the second forage grass variety to receive the prestigious Variety Cup from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).
Awarded only periodically (since 1986), the NIAB Variety Cup recognises varieties from agricultural, horticultural or ornamental sectors which have made a major contribution to crop productivity through improved quality, disease resistance, grower return or commercial success. This year the award was presented to Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), breeder of AberGreen, and its commercial partner Germinal. The award is the latest in a long list of accolades for the plant breeding team that works in a well-established long term partnership with Germinal.
Professor Mike Gooding, director of IBERS, said: “I am honoured to receive the NIAB Variety Cup on behalf of the grass breeding team at IBERS. This award builds on the distinguished heritage of crop improvement at Aberystwyth lasting nearly 100 years. AberGreen demonstrates our continued commitment to combining leading agricultural performance with improved environmental sustainability: an essential combination to deliver resilient farm businesses and food security.”
Outstanding dry matter yield combined with exceptional D-value make the intermediate diploid AberGreen one of the very highest ranked perennial ryegrasses for total Metabolisable Energy (ME) yield. With its higher water soluble carbohydrate content but without a proportional increase in protein, AberGreen exhibits what breeders describe as close to the optimum forage protein-to-energy balance for efficient livestock production.
“Ruminant animals are poor converters of grass protein into meat and milk,” explains Germinal NI’s David Little. “This is largely due to the imbalance between readily available energy and protein within grass. In a grazing context this commonly results in only around 20% of the protein from herbage actually being used for production. The rest is excreted, which is financially costly for the farmer and problematic for the environment as nitrogenous waste converts to greenhouse gases.
“There are therefore real benefits in providing a better protein-to-energy balance in grass, as has been demonstrated with AberGreen. With the higher water soluble carbohydrate in the grass providing more readily available energy in the rumen, more of the nitrogen released from the breakdown of protein is used by the rumen microbes for the production of meat and milk, and less is excreted as greenhouse gases.”