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Friday 9 December 2016

Welsh varieties top the latest pasture index

Published 02/03/2016 | 02:30

Teagasc grassland management specialist Michael O'Donovan addresses farmers at a Moorepark open day. Photo: O'Gorman Photography
Teagasc grassland management specialist Michael O'Donovan addresses farmers at a Moorepark open day. Photo: O'Gorman Photography

The latest ranking for grass-seed varieties has been released by Teagasc, with diploid Abermagic topping the Pasture Profit Index (PPI).

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Its €210/ha/yr rating is 5pc higher than the next nearest variety, the tetraploid Abergain, on a rating of €199. Both are from the Aberystwyth breeding programme in Wales, which also provides the fourth highest variety, AberPlentiful, another tetraploid. All are available from Germinal Seeds.

Third ranked Nifty is a diploid with a PPI of €190/ha/yr. It is sold by Seedtech.

Launched in 2014, the PPI was designed to be an 'EBI for grass' by a team led by Teagasc Moorepark's Michael O'Donovan.

It captures the key performance measures of different grass varieties, based on independent data that originates from the Department of Agriculture trials.

The grasses are assessed under grazing conditions, along with their growth, quality and persistence scores on 84 farms around the country.

The Irish index is still the only of its kind in the world, with New Zealand's Forage Value Index only taking into account forage drymatter output. In fact, the Irish index looks set to be expanded further, according to Mr O'Donovan.

"We're looking more closely at the graze-out qualities of varieties. The feedback from farm level is that the tetraploids graze out better. We used to be worried about the persistency of tetraploids, but we are beginning to realise that ground cover may not be the best measure of persistency.

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"Instead, we think it is more about the number of tillers that survive, and generally, whatever you have after 11 months will determine the make-up of your sward from that point on," he said.

In addition, Mr O'Donovan is looking at starting trial plots to develop a similar index for clover, and to increase the number of grass-seed varieties being trialled at farm level to 25.

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