Aberystwyth celebrates 100 years of grass breeding at IBERS

Wednesday 02.10.2019 , news

A conference celebrating a century of grass breeding in Aberystwyth will highlight the importance of grassland development to rural economies and will recognise continued progress as being as vital today as it was at the outset back in 1919.

“Back to the Future, 100 Years of Grassland Development” will take place in the William Davies Lecture Hall at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), Plas Gogerddan, Bow Street, Aberystwyth on Thursday 17th October. Organised by the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies, the conference will be preceded by the FWGS AGM and will include presentations from researchers and leading grassland farmers, including past and current champions from the world of grassland farming.

During the conference, the history of grass variety selection from the founding of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station through to the IBERS of today will be presented by Aberystwyth University’s Dr Iwan Owen and Cyril Davies. There will also be presentations on successful grassland systems from leading farmers Sam Carey, Richard and Lyn Anthony, and Dafydd Jones. Bangor University’s Dr Prysor Williams will complete the presentations with a look into the future of grassland systems.

In 1989, Germinal Holdings Ltd forged agreement with the IBERS to secure world marketing rights for new varieties. Since then, the partnership has helped to fund ongoing research at IBERS and the development of new varieties – namely the award-winner Aber® High Sugar Grass. These varieties have demonstrated a reduction of emissions of nitrous oxide and methane and increase production of meat and milk, when fed to ruminant livestock. Aber HSG increases 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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