Forage genomics key to mitigating ruminant agriculture’s climate impact

Tuesday 28.03.2023 , Research news

With the growing focus on climate change mitigation across agriculture, Germinal sees the application of genomics technology as vital to the future of sustainable ruminant livestock production. 

As part of its ongoing investment in cutting-edge science relating to the breeding of new agricultural grass and forage seed varieties, Germinal, in conjunction with Aberystwyth University, has announced the appointment of Professor Gancho Slavov as the Germinal Chair of Crop Genomics at Aberystwyth University's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS). 

The academic's appointment is the result of a 30-year collaboration between Germinal and the world-leading grassland research centre IBERS, which has seen them jointly developing market-leading seed varieties with public-good traits. 

Their innovative work continues, currently developing novel varieties suited to the increasing demands of sustainable food production and progressing towards net zero from productive forage. 

Forage genomics key to mitigating ruminant agriculture's climate impact

Future of plant breeding in genomics and phenotyping 

Commenting on Professor Slavov's appointment, Paul Billings, Managing Director, Germinal UK & Ireland, said:

"We're delighted to welcome Professor Slavov to this senior research position funded by Germinal. His experience and expertise reflect the future of plant breeding in genomics and phenotyping. 

"Whilst well established in animal genetics, and increasingly used in other crops, genomics has not been widely used to date in grass and forage breeding. We believe that the accuracy of breeding, and the potential rate of gain that it offers, mean that it is vital to the rapid mitigation of climate change in ruminant livestock."

Germinal will be using genomics to accelerate the development of grass and forage varieties, focusing on areas such as improved nutrient-use efficiency, including protein digestibility, and the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus applications to growing crops, with the overall aim of delivering meaningful reductions in the climate footprint of ruminant food production. 

Building a resilient and sustainable farming industry

Commneting on his appointment, Professor Slavov said:

"Plant breeding is likely to become increasingly reliant on innovations in genomics and phenotyping for greater agility in the face of climate change and market uncertainties. Translating research outcomes to practical applications is challenging, but I'm looking forward to contributing and supporting both the University and Germinal in their leading commitment to building a resilient and sustainable farming industry." 

World-class research and innovation in climate change 

Professor Iain Donnison, Head of IBERS at Aberystwyth University added: 

"We are delighted that Professor Slavov - with all his international experience - is joining us here at the Institute. We are proud to have such as strong team of experts - leaders in their fields both nationally and internationally. Our partnership with Germinal is an important part of the world-class research and innovation that takes place here in the fields of climate change and biodiversity." 

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