• Responses of grain yield, biomass and harvest index and their rates of genetic progress to nitrogen availability in ten winter wheat varieties.

      White, E.M.; Wilson, F.E.A. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      Increased yields in winter wheat cultivars have been found to be largely attributable to improved partitioning of biomass to the grain, i.e., higher harvest index. However, there is a biological upper limit to harvest index and therefore breeders need to exploit increased biomass production as the mechanism by which yields are increased. Evidence for improved biomass was sought in experiments conducted over three years (1994 to 1996), at the Plant Testing Station, Crossnacreevy, near Belfast, with 10 varieties of winter wheat introduced over the period 1977 to 1991. Variation in grain yield was more strongly associated with variation in biomass (an increase of 0.78 t/ha in grain yield at 85% dry matter (DM) per 1t/ha increase in biomass at 100% DM; R2 = 0.71) than in harvest index (an increase of 0.1t/ha at 85% DM per percentage point increase in harvest index; R2 = 0.36). When age (= year of first harvest in UK National List trials) of the varieties was taken into account, yield (0.037 t ha−y−; R2 = 0.42) and biomass (0.034 t ha−y−; R2 = 0.31), but not harvest index (0.34%/year; R2 = 0.001), increased as year increased. Genetic gain in yield was smaller without fertiliser N (0.021 t ha−y−; R2 = 0.21) and at 40 kg ha N (0.025 t ha−y−; R2 =0.25) than at 215–250 kg/ha N (0.065 t ha−y−; R2 = 0.39). Theoretically, if the maximum biomass (18.60 t/ha for Rialto), could have been combined with the maximum harvest index (55.3%) in Riband, yield would potentially have been increased by 2.5 t/ha compared with yields for either variety.
    • The use of near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) for prediction of the nutritive value of barley for growing pigs

      McCann, M.E.E.; McCracken, K.J.; Agnew, R.E. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      There is a need in the feed industry for a rapid means of evaluating the nutritive value of feeds and feed ingredients. Chemical analysis provides only basic information and most of the laboratory techniques take too long for this information to be of use in feed formulation at the feed mill. Near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) has been proposed as an alternative means of predicting nutritive value. In this study, NIRS was used to predict the digestible energy (DE) concentration and in vitro ileal digestibility of crude protein (CP) and total-tract digestibility of energy of locally produced barley. The calibration and validation statistics were developed using modified partial least squares (MPLS). Derivatisation and scatter correction procedures were carried out to reduce interference from external effects. The correlations between actual and predicted DE values, based on both calibration (R2 0.93) and validation (R2 0.69), were strong with corresponding low standard errors of calibration (SEC) and cross validation (SECV) (SEC 0.128, SECV 0.279). Strong correlations were also observed between predicted and actual in vitro digestibility values for both calibration and validation exercises. It was noted that validation weakened the correlations (R2 0.73 vs. 0.50 for in vitro ileal digestibility of CP and 0.80 vs. 0.68 for in vitro total tract digestibility of energy) and fractionally increased the standard errors (0.016 vs. 0.020 for in vitro ileal digestibility of CP and 0.018 vs. 0.024 for in vitro total tract digestibility of energy). The correlations obtained by cross validation of the lowest SECV equations were not significantly different to those obtained by the scatter correction treatments. The strong relationships and low standard errors obtained between the actual and predicted values indicates that NIRS may be of use in predicting the nutritive value of barley for growing pigs, although more research is required to include larger sample sets.