Better grasses = more production and improved nutrition

Through the Dairy Futures CRC’s Designer grasses program, researchers are improving temperate and warm-season pasture grass options for Australian dairy farmers.

“We are now at least 10 years into a long-term research program to deliver large gains in feed quality and pasture performance through the use of transgenic technologies. This includes advanced programs with ryegrass under field trials, and new work with warm-season grasses, such as paspalum, that could change the forage options available to a wide cross-section of the dairy industry.”

Professor German Spangenberg
Chief Scientist

Designer grasses — program aims

Productive pastures are the backbone of Australia’s dairy industry. By using a range of transgenic technologies , Dairy Future CRC researchers are working to boost the dry matter yield, metabolisable energy (ME) levels and digestibility of a range of temperate and warm-season pasture grasses.

Two examples of projects in this program are:

  1. Ryegrass with increased levels of fructan , which aims to increase the ME content of grass by one energy unit (one megajoule of energy per kilogram of dry matter).
  2. Warm-season grasses with at least a three-unit increase in digestibility (in vivo dry matter digestibility on a percentage basis).

Grasses developed through the Designer grasses program will be able to:

  • Increase the proportion of home-grown feed on dairy farms.
  • Boost milk production.
  • Increase animal liveweight.
  • Better adapt to a variable climate.

Collaborative approach

The Designer grasses program capitalises on existing relationships between geneticists, molecular plant breeders and commercial plant breeders and agronomists to deliver innovative pasture options for Australia’s dairy farmers. Organisations involved in this Program include:

PGG Seeds

Program contact

Professor German Spangenberg
Chief Scientist