The future of grass breeding at AFBI

Date published: 24 January 2017

Area of Expertise:

A lunchtime seminar was held in AFBI recently, presented by Dr Gillian Young entitled "The Future of Grass Breeding at AFBI".

Mr David Johnston (AFBI), Mr David Linton (Barenbrug), Dr Gillian Young (AFBI) and Dr Sinclair Mayne (AFBI CEO)

Grass is the most important resource available to livestock farmers in Northern Ireland. One way of improving productivity from grass is to exploit the wide genetic potential available and to breed varieties which are well adapted to local farming conditions. By delivering a successful forage breeding programme, AFBI Loughgall has played a vital part in increasing grassland productivity locally and further afield.

In the seminar Dr Young, who has recently been appointed as Forage Grass breeder based at AFBI Loughgall, gave an overview of the programme to date, and the future outlook for grass breeding at AFBI.  This included the importance of various additional grassland-based parameters, such as disease resistance and palatability, and the potential to incorporate new technologies, such as genomic selection and intraspecific hybridization, into the programme.

Since it was set up at Loughgall 63 years ago, a primary focus of the breeding programme has been the production of higher yielding varieties. Over the last 30 years, yield increases of approximately 0.4% per annum have been recorded. This means that the best varieties being commercialised now are at least 24% higher yielding than the best available varieties 30 years ago.

Notes to editors: 

AFBI carries out high quality technology research and development, statutory, analytical, and diagnostic testing functions for DAERA and other Government departments, public bodies and commercial companies. 

AFBI's Vision is “Scientific excellence in Northern Ireland …  serving the world”.

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