Programme start: January 2013
Length: 7 years
PGP funding: $7.66 million
Industry funding: $8.15 million
Crown funding paid out to programme for work done to 30 June 2019: $7,013,460
Commercial partners: PGG Wrightson Seeds Ltd, Grasslanz Technology Ltd
Estimated potential economic benefits to NZ: $200 million per year by 2025.
Final programme report
Improving pasture health through technology
This PGP programme was led by PGG Wrightson Seeds and Grasslanz Technology. It consisted of 4 projects designed to develop a suite of innovations that improve productivity and animal health, while mitigating adverse environmental impacts.
Background to the programme
Future farming systems require forages that can meet the nutritional requirements of high-performing animals. They also require technologies that can mitigate the environmental impacts often associated with highly productive farming systems.
This programme developed technologies to improve pasture performance, reduce the impact of pests and diseases, overcome animal health disorders and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and losses from drought stress.
Farmers can expect technologies that provide improved productivity and profitability across all New Zealand regions and farming systems where pasture renewal occurs.
Outcomes to date
- Our elite perennial ryegrass selections with AR501 endophyte have improved bioactivity against insect pests and excellent agronomic performance, outperforming more than 100 other entries across 8 locations in New Zealand. This will improve pasture production and productivity and reduce the need for chemical pesticides. The optimal method for progressing this to a commercial product has been determined and is underway.
- The effect of PGP-endophytes on facial eczema spore counts have been assessed under field conditions, demonstrating at least a 30% reduction in P. chartarum spore counts under severe infection conditions over the past 2 years. Further work is required prior to a commercial product being developed, but the results are encouraging that this will be a tool to help reduce the impacts, severity, and costs associated with facial eczema.
- Pallaton raphanobrassica is now fully commercial. It has demonstrated improved water-use efficiency (+38%), aphid tolerance (+32%), clubroot resistance (100%), lower glucosinolate levels (-80%), excellent seed yield and improved agronomic performance (+14% DM yield) compared to Goliath rape across a range of regional sites. Furthermore, our cattle grazing trial resulted in ~30% higher liveweight gain per hectare without any increase in brassica associated liver disease. Initial on-farm studies have also shown strong improvements in lamb-finishing systems with more than $2,000 per hectare profitability gains compared with forage rape and grass pasture. Approximately 4,500 hectares of Pallaton has been sown across New Zealand in 2017/18 and dry matter yield and liveweight gains to date have been very encouraging.
- More than 3,000 hectares of Firefly kale are currently being grown on-farm in New Zealand. Reports on performance to date have been excellent with demonstrated improvements in yield compared to other products.