Pressures to minimise nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) leaching into water, to reduce N excretion from ruminant livestock, and to adapt to climate change are all increasing in the UK and will require action on farms. Tackling them may be helped by breeding new grass and clover varieties. Previous work indicates likely success in developing new varieties that can address N and P use efficiency, lower emissions from livestock and improve water use. Breeding LINK, (the collective name of four closely related projects funded under the Defra Sustainable Livestock Production (SLP) LINK programme), aims to address these problems. The projects, led by IBERS, seek to underpin the development of new varieties of grass and clover to enhance beef, sheep and dairy production whilst reducing the environmental impact of grassland agriculture in the UK.
The four 5-year Breeding LINK projects use state of the art approaches to develop varieties which will, without compromising on forage yield or quality, lead to financial savings for farmers.
The individual projects are:
- LK0685 - Genetic improvement of forage grasses and white clover to improve phosphorus use efficiency and reduce phosphorus losses to water from UK grasslands.
- LK0686 - Genetic improvement of perennial ryegrass and red clover to increase nitrogen use efficiency and reduce N losses from pastures and silo.
- LK0687 - Genetic improvement of perennial ryegrass and white clover to increase the efficiency of nitrogen use in the rumen.
- LK0688 - Development of productive and persistent high quality forage grasses and white clover with increased water-use-efficiency and resilience
Further information on this research can be found on the projects’ dedicated website Greener Grasslands.