Independent evaluation of Seed and Nutritional Technology Development

Seed and Nutritional Technology Development (SNTD) was a 7-year PGP programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Grasslanz Technology, and PGG Wrightson Seeds. The programme developed new options for forage crops that can boost productivity and animal health and finished in January 2020. Read about the results of an independent evaluation of the programme.

Background to the SNTD programme

A growing number of farmers are stocking modern, high-performing breeds of livestock. These often have higher nutritional demands, so there’s a need for better forage crops. The choice of crop can also reduce environmental impacts.

SNTD aimed to increase farm productivity and profitability by:

  • improving pasture (including improving drought resistance)
  • reducing the impact of pests and diseases
  • reventing animal health disorders
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Evaluation of the SNTD programme

As part of its monitoring process for PGP programmes, MPI commissioned an independent evaluation. This looked at:

  • outcomes and benefits
  • programme execution
  • lessons learnt.

What the evaluation found

  • Investment in SNTD was worthwhile for everyone involved.
  • The products that the programme commercialised have allowed farmers to increase productivity.
  • The economic benefits from SNTD are expected to be between $75 and $135 million. Productivity gains (on-farm benefits) are expected to be between $66 and $125 million. This equates to a 13:1 return on MPI’s investment.
  • The programme increased scientific capability and developed new processes. These will allow Grasslanz Technology and PGG Wrightson Seeds to continue to innovate.
  • The programme has successfully delivered 2 brassica forages:
    • Pallaton raphanobrassica is drought tolerant and can increase productivity.
    • Firefly Cleancrop Kale is herbicide resistant so can grow on land being treated for weeds and invasive brassicas.

    PGG Wrightson Seeds, the broader seed industry, and New Zealand farmers are already benefiting from these products.

  • More products are being developed. These should deliver improved productivity, animal welfare, and environmental benefits.
  • A ryegrass fungus has been found that could increase animal productivity. It has broad insect resistance and doesn’t have an impact on animal welfare.
  • Another fungus reduces facial eczema spores. This could be used to treat facial eczema around the world.
  • Hi-CT white clover could reduce bloat, improve animal productivity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Cleancrop raphanobrassica could help control weeds and increase crop yields.

SNTD recommendations

  • An outcome logic model, economic model, and indicators of success should be included when a programme is being established.
  • Programmes should get independent advice to identify weaknesses, and fix these. This can be done when a programme is being established or when it’s underway.
  • Discussions about intellectual property and commercialisation should be documented. This will make sure the partners all understand the situation when they are discussing future investments.
  • An economic analysis is needed to clarify the benefits, costs, and risks of genetically modified forages.
  • Commercial partners should examine the remaining costs, risks, and economic potential of the Hi-CT white clover project.

The programme partners and MPI are considering and incorporating relevant recommendations.

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