Top profits from AFBI’s Gracehill grass variety

The AFBI-bred tetraploid perennial ryegrass Gracehill has already impressed on recommended lists across the UK, appearing as one of the top varieties on the 2020/2021 Recommended Grass and Clover Lists (RGCL), writes Dr Gillian Young, Grassland & Plant Sciences, AFBI Loughgall.

Saturday, 27th March 2021, 8:54 am
David Linton (Barenbrug Regional Sales Manager NI) and Gillian Young (AFBI Forage Grass Breeder) at the forage grass breeding plots at AFBI, Loughgall.
David Linton (Barenbrug Regional Sales Manager NI) and Gillian Young (AFBI Forage Grass Breeder) at the forage grass breeding plots at AFBI, Loughgall.

But now, Gracehill has also achieved the coveted spot of the best-performing late-heading perennial ryegrass variety in Ireland, cementing its position as one of the very best available forage grass varieties.

The Pasture Profit Index (PPI) ranks grass varieties tested across ROI in economic terms, with each variety assigned a monetary value for contribution to net profit/ha based on traits such as seasonal yield, grass quality, silage production and persistency. Gracehill is now the highest-performing late heading perennial ryegrass available according to the 2021/2022 PPI list, producing a net profit of €222/ha/year. Gracehill is an excellent all-round performer right across the growing season, producing high annual yields under both grazing and silage management, but has been shown to particularly excel in autumn growth and silage yield.

AFBI varieties once again feature strongly across the PPI list for 2021/2022, accounting for 30% of all perennial ryegrass varieties recommended for use on farm. These include Ballyvoy, the most recently released late diploid variety to come from the AFBI grass breeding programme. Ballyvoy has performed extremely well in UK recommended list testing, topping its category for both yield and quality under silage management on the 2020/2021 RGCL. Once again, testing in ROI now reveals the excellent yields produced by Ballyvoy, with an excellent balance of grazing yield across the season, including spring and autumn growth.

The successful grass breeding research programme at AFBI Loughgall is supported by funding from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), with varieties marketed through AFBI’s commercial partner Barenbrug UK Ltd. Grass is the most important crop on farms in Northern Ireland and one of the most efficient ways of improving productivity from grass is to breed varieties which are well adapted to local farming conditions.