IBERS has led and participated in a number of LINK projects that support collaborative research between industrial and academic partners. These include LIPIGRASS; looking at the lipid content of grass, and SUREROOT; looking at the rooting of grass and clover varieties for the prevention of flooding and forage production in periods of drought.
Since 1989, Germinal has sponsored the breeding work in the grass and clover varieties at IBERS. This has been a hugely successful relationship for both parties, allowing Germinal the worldwide marketing right for the forage grass and clovers bred at IBERS. These varieties are recognised by the prefix “Aber®”.
The forage breeding and genetics team at IBERS have had remarkable success at developing germplasm with novel traits, particularly quality, persistency and yield. Thanks to the partnership with Germinal, this has enabled the scientific advancements to be translated into commercially successful forage crop varieties that have proven performance across Ireland, the UK and further afield. Currently, there are 10 Aber® varieties on the Irish Recommended List of Grass Varieties out of a total of 34 varieties. In addition, the animal nutrition research team at IBERS works closely with the forage plant breeders to inform and influence the direction of forage crop breeding.
Feedback from grassland famers is also paramount to ensuring the breeding program advances in the right direction to sustainably increase livestock productivity through the use of home-grown forage and crop resources.
Leading the way - Aber® High Sugar Grass (HSG)
Scientists at IBERS were responsible for the development of the Aber® HSG varieties with elevated levels of water soluble carbohydrate (WSC). These varieties have been demonstrated to reduce emissions of nitrous oxide and methane and increase production of meat and milk, when fed to ruminant livestock. These varieties have demonstrated increased grass quality (DMD), which is proven to have a positive effect on both animal intake and performance.
IBERS have received a number of prestigious awards for their technological breakthrough including:
- Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2009
- NIAB Cup for Improvement in Quality 2003 and again in 2015
- Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) Award for Technology and Innovation in 2007
- The Times Higher Education Award (THE Award) Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology
- British Grassland Society Innovation Award 2011
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Innovation with Excellence Award
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