Thursday, 10 September 2020 06:58

New grass produces sweet results

Written by  Staff Reporters
Digestibility, a measure of pasture quality and nutritional value, is one of the most important factors for increasing milk or meat production. Digestibility, a measure of pasture quality and nutritional value, is one of the most important factors for increasing milk or meat production.

A new high sugar grass now available in NZ has the potential to significantly lift animal production and reduce farmer’s environmental footprint.

That's according to seed company Germinal NZ.

Scientists have found the grass – AberGreen AR1 – has up to 5.5% higher digestibility levels than conventional varieties. Germinal claims it is the first perennial ryegrass in the country to offer close to an optimum balance of energy and protein, which means it is more digestible for livestock than conventional varieties.

Germinal general manager Sarah Gard explains that digestibility, a measure of pasture quality and nutritional value, is one of the most important factors for increasing milk or meat production.

“A digestibility gain of 1% is worth 3% of yield,” she says. “AberGreen AR1 has 5.5% higher digestibility than standard ryegrass varieties, which means they can absorb more energy from the feed.”

Gard claims this offers the potential for dairy cows, beef cattle and lambs to significantly increase production.

“I firmly believe that there are three pillars to a good ryegrass – yield, quality and persistence. There is little benefit in growing a lot of low quality feed.”

The new ryegrass is the latest addition to Germinal’s range of high sugar grasses, which are bred to produce a higher level of water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC), or sugar energy, than traditional ryegrass.

In an independent trial of New Zealand cultivars, AberGreen AR1 was found to have a 15.5% higher than average WSC level.

Increased sugar energy has proven to lift animal production with New Zealand research showing that lambs grazing high sugar grass finished 17% faster and 19% heavier than lambs grazing a conventional ryegrass variety.

“The high sugar content enables the microbes responsible for the breakdown of forage to operate more efficiently, so more protein is converted to meat and milk and less is excreted into the environment.”

Gard adds that the new grass is also very densely-tillered and provides superior ground cover compared with other ryegrasses.

“As a result, it has increased ability to withstand heavy grazing and pugging. The increased ground cover provides the plant with greater ability to capture light for photosynthesis and growth, restricting the invasion of weeds and unsown species.”

Gard also claims that AberGreen AR1 can help farmers reduce their environmental footprint.

“The extra soluble sugars can change rumen fermentation patterns, reducing methane emissions,” she explains. “A New Zealand trial reported 9% lower methane emissions from sheep fed high sugar grass, such as AberGreen AR1, when compared to a conventional variety.”

Gard adds that the improved use of ruminal protein can limit the amount of nitrogen lost in urine.

More like this

Forage grasses to be bred locally

International seed business Germinal is increasing its presence in New Zealand, appointing Sarah Gard, of North Canterbury, as its trials and product development manager.

Featured

 

Fonterra back in the black

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says 2019/20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and a strong milk price.

Strategy to reduce heifer mastitis

First calvers are more prone to mastitis than older cows. According to DairyNZ, farmers must choose a strategy that best suits their herd, farm team, and budget.

National

Helping grow farming’s future

John Jackson’s ability for future and critical thinking saw him deeply involved in the development of an agribusiness programme that…

Nothing sustainable without profit

Chair of Dairy Environment Leaders programme Melissa Slattery believes that sustainable farming is highly important to young farmers.

Machinery & Products

JD updates header line-up

John Deere has updated its entire header line-up for combines to include the new HDR Rigid Cutterbar Drapers, RDF HydraFlex…

Hybrid harvesters launched

New Holland has entered the world of hybrid headers, launching a new machine that blends its conventional threshing drum and…

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Burn!

OPINION: This old mutt had to have a giggle at the dig Feds recently made at the Green Party in the…

Why?

OPINION: Your canine crusader was aghast to read that the prices of zucchini and cucumbers rose more than 30% in…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter