Opportunities and challenges for breeding perennial ryegrass cultivars with improved livestock production potential
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CitationT.J. Gilliland, T. Ball and D. Hennessy. Opportunities and challenges for breeding perennial ryegrass cultivars with improved livestock production potential. Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research. 2021, Vol. 59(2):233-245. DOI: 10.15212/ijafr-2020-0111
AbstractThis review addresses key factors and impediments that govern the efficient transfer of nutrient energy from primary producing grassland to ruminant milk and meat. The review focuses on permanent improved grasslands, defined as “swards maintained at a high production potential by grass-to-grass renewal”, frequently of a 5- to 10-yr longevity. Breeding progress to date is examined as are the primary objectives for the next generation of cultivars. This involves aligning grass productivity to ruminant demand in three primary aspects, namely intake potential, nutritional value and productivity profile. The opportunity to selectively improve plant traits affecting sward structure, chemical composition, seasonality and ability to persist and perform under farm conditions is evaluated. The EU context involves appraising the impact of variables such as grass species and cultivar, regional abiotic stresses (water, temperature, nutrients, soil type, etc.), biotic stresses from disease and pests, regional diversity in sward management strategies, and the opportunity to minimise the environmental footprint of ruminant farming.
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