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AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH

Livestock farming is changing fast, with farms focusing on their strengths, increasingly efficient dairy and livestock production.

The modern farmer has different needs regarding their grassland. Instead of just high dry matter production, more and more priority is being given to palatability, persistency, nitrogen efficiency, drought tolerance, winter survival, rumen stimulation and protein production. Naturally, the highest level of disease resistance is also a leading purpose in all our forage breeding programmes. These issues make up the leading criteria for grass mixture selection for modern farming, demanding a new focus.

For this purpose Barenbrug breeds grasses and forage legumes at 10 breeding stations worldwide. The final seed mixture is a specific combination of grass species and varieties and their interaction. The mixtures are tested in assessment trials and on farms, to meet the requirements of modern farming and grassland management.

Trials overview

Barenbrug UK has a comprehensive and extensive UK trials programme with three sites replicating the differing conditions and climates experienced by UK livestock producers.

The latest site is Cropvale, between Pershore and Evesham with its longer growing season, and greater disease and drought stress in summer. Cropvale is being used to screen new material from Barenbrug Holland and Barenbrug France, together from our operation in New Zealand - Agriseeds. In addition we are testing mixtures and species, like tall fescue, westerwolds and vetches, which are outside the UK National List system.

Our Scottish site is part of the SAC National and Recommended List trials at Blackburn NW of Aberdeen. Here we are screening trials of varieties and species, particularly suited to the Scottish market. Material from Barenbrug Holland, Boreal Finland, DvP Belgium as well as AFBI is on trial. To succeed at Aberdeen, varieties must have very good spring growth, as the longer winter means that grass starts growing later in the spring and stops earlier in the Autumn. The site has a short growing season and harder winters than our third site at Loughgall. We are also using the site to develop, new improved mixtures for Scottish conditions, by doing yield and seasonal growth trials on different varietal permutations in the same mixtures.

The oldest of our trials sites is at Loughgall where alongside our collaboration with AFBI we have a programme that has been central to bringing over 20 varieties to market that are playing a significant role in providing farmers with varieties that are top for exceptional spring growth, palatability, disease resistance and digestibility. The main advantage of Loughgall is the very long growing season with no limiting factors i.e. plenty of moisture, very little frost and varieties can express their full growth and yield potential. Loughgall also produces breeders’ seed and screens material from Barenbrug and other breeders.

All three sites are helping speed up the process of entering material onto the National Lists. They also allow us to trial minor species that could have an increasingly important role in tackling the effects of climate change and the need for even better disease resistance.

Barenbrug agricultural trials site

Latest trials report
Cropvale
LoughGall
Aberdeen

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