“July is over and so is the fifth month of grass harvesting, so only another three and a bit months left to go! This year we have welcomed a new addition to the grass breeding team to assist with those harvests, a new Haldrup F-55 forage plot harvester. This machine has been designed to provide highly accurate results from testing so that growers can have confidence that varietal performance on trial plots will be repeated on farm. DSV runs multiple co-operative projects with manufacturers and researchers into the development of these machines and other new technologies to improve our breeding.
For example the new harvester is equipped with a state-of-the-art spectrometer system which measures the biochemical composition of the forage as it is being cut, so that we may develop new lines which are most efficiently utilised by the grazing animal or suited to ensiling. DSV has been testing the nutritional quality of our grasses for decades and this can be seen in the high digestibility in many of our forages, resulting in excellent animal performance.
But utilisation of grass is not due to quality alone but the physical characters of the grass plants. At this time of year ryegrasses can still produce new heading stems which are unpalatable to animals and reduce intake. We select lines with fewer heads, very good nutritional characters and biomass yield to stack the traits in our varieties most important for producers.
In early June grass was sown at our site around new breeding nurseries and projects and has established extremely well thanks to the weather, but trials are drilled in autumn as on most farms for a higher chance of sufficient water. Final stale seedbed preparations are being done and the new experiments ready to be planted, somewhere within the hundreds of the lines in those tests should be the beginnings of more varieties from DSV to see on recommended lists in years to come.”