15AGRITECHCAT4: Application of innovative plant breeding and phenotyping to reduce the nutrient requirement of forages to reduce the environmental....

Lead Research Organisation: Aberystwyth University
Department Name: IBERS

Abstract

Forage crops such as perennial ryegrass and white clover are the major feed of UK livestock and an important component of sustainable ruminant production. Grassland covers 11million ha of the UK landmass of which 1.2million ha is <5 years old, with 325,000ha resown annually with varieties of forage grasses and legumes (Defra). The major emphasis of grassland agriculture has been on increasing dry matter yield, forage quality and animal production. Greater EU regulation means the UK grassland sector is now faced with reducing the environmental impact of production whilst simultaneously improving its production and efficiency. The effective use of nutrients is one of the key components of efficient grassland management, with the application of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) integral to maintaining the productivity of high quality swards. Livestock farmers are being encouraged to produce more from forage, while less predictable fertiliser prices, may act to increase costs. This project will address the challenge of increasing the sustainable intensification of grassland agriculture through applying plant breeding and genomics technologies in parallel with enhanced phenotying technologies, within the NPPC to improve the nutrient use efficiency of perennial ryegrass and white clover varieties.

Fertiliser inputs to grassland depend upon system and management regime. Nitrogen prices are currently £270/t or 78p/kg N. Application rates range widely: a standard range would be 160kg to >204kg N ha/year depending upon stocking rate, concentrate use, manure application and use of forage legumes. Improving the use of N and P in UK grassland systems through targeted plant breeding is a major challenge but also presents a significant opportunity for plant breeders. This project will exploit outcomes of earlier research on perennial ryegrass and white clover that has developed novel genetic resources and breeding technologies that will enable selection for improved nutrient use eficiency in forages, leading to varieties of perennial ryegrass and white clover requiring less N and P per unit of dry matter production, providing an economic benefit to primary producers and environmental benefits. The project will use the National Plant Phenotyping Centre at Aberystwyth University (AU) to analyse the effect of selection on NUE on single plants prior to seed production and evaluation in field trials and validation of the outcomes through optimised nutrient management. The enhanced germplasm developed will be exploited beyond the project (within 5 years of completion) by Germinal Holdings Ltd. (GHL) to produce finished varieties marketed by GHL in UK and overseas, potentially increasing the use of their varieties by 10% (currently GHL supply 30% of UK forage seed market of 10000t).

Technical Summary

Forage crops such as perennial ryegrass and white clover are the major feed of UK livestock and an important component of sustainable ruminant production. Grassland covers 11million ha of the UK landmass of which 1.2million ha is <5 years old, with 325,000ha resown annually with varieties of forage grasses and legumes (Defra). Greater EU regulation means the UK grassland sector is now faced with reducing the environmental impact of production whilst simultaneously improving its production and efficiency. The effective use of nutrients is one of the key components of efficient grassland management, with the application of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) integral to maintaining the productivity of high quality swards. Livestock farmers are being encouraged to produce more from forage, while less predictable fertiliser prices, may act to increase costs. This project will address the challenge of increasing the sustainable intensification of grassland agriculture through applying plant breeding and genomics technologies in parallel with enhanced phenotying technologies, within the NPPC to improve the nutrient use efficiency of perennial ryegrass and white clover varieties. This project will exploit outcomes of earlier research on perennial ryegrass and white clover that has developed novel genetic resources and breeding technologies that will enable selection for improved nutrient use efficiency in forages, leading to varieties of perennial ryegrass and white clover requiring less N and P per unit of dry matter production, providing an economic benefit to primary producers and environmental benefits. The project will use the National Plant Phenotyping Centre at Aberystwyth University (AU) to analyse the effect of selection on NUE on single plants prior to seed production. The enhanced germplasm developed will be exploited beyond the project by Germinal Holdings Ltd.

Planned Impact

The major beneficiaries of this research will be:
Plant breeding community: N and P efficient ryegrass populations and varieties, additional genetic variations of N and P content and genomically and phenotypically characterised germplasm will be available for use by forage grass and white clover breeders. A number of pre-breeding lines and molecular marker tools will also be available for breeding these traits in future varieties with speed and precision. Breeders of related crop species that share genome synteny with ryegrass and white clover will benefit through opportunities to identify and use orthologous gene loci in their crops.

Livestock sector: This work will also have a significant economic and environmental impact on ruminant production.
Advanced varieties and germplasm will be developed for ryegrass and white clover which will have the best combination of N and P use efficiencies together with other forage quality traits that will deliver environmental and economic benefits to sustainable livestock production systems. UK farmers and other land-managers will benefit from the production of more N and P efficient varieties of forage grasses and white clover, enabling lower fertilizer inputs and associated energy costs. The outputs of this project in terms of improved N and P use efficiency in grasses and white clover will reduce the impacts of fertilizer applications in crops of the key species employed in UK grassland systems. Enhanced uptake and use efficiencies of N and P of grasses and white clover should decrease through improved nutrients uptake and lower requirements for additions of supplementary fertiliser.

Society: There will be direct environmental benefits from this project to wider society. UK statutory regulatory authorities including the Environment Agency and National Rivers Authority, together with commercial Water Companies will benefit economically from variety take-up and consequent reductions in N andP losses from agro-ecosystems contributing to eutrophication of water courses, aquifer pollution, and gaseous (N) emissions to the atmosphere. Policy makers will benefit from the addition made by varieties with improved NUE to the portfolio of measures for implementing and rewarding environmentally sustainable land-management at individual farm and catchment level, not least in nitrate vulnerable zones. Finally, the public at large will benefit economically, recreationally and in terms of health as a consequence of the enhancements in environmental quality accruing from the wide-spread application of the project's deliverables

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Initial studies in flowing solution culture and in the National Plant Phenomics centre has shown considerable genetic variation in nutrient use efficiency in perennial ryegrass (nitrogen) and for white clover (phosphorus). Results obtained from phenotyping this germplasm will be combined with ongoing genetic analysis in order to produce robust genetic markers for nutrient use efficiency in both species. In a parallel strand of work in this project a breeding population of white clover (Ac 5192) has been derived from plants performing well in a low-P field area. Further selections have been made from this germplasm (summer 2017), and these are being refined for further use in the white clover breeding programme (ongoing). In both species, markers identified for nutrient use efficiency will be applied to select new populations to strengthen existing breeding programmes.
Exploitation Route This preliminary data is based on analysis of some of IBERS perennial ryegrass and white clover genetic resources. It has also included some existing commercial varieties, which have also shown variation in some of these traits. This project will identify genetic markers for nutrient use efficiency in key forage crops.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Title Novel phenotyping approach for quantifying response of forage grasses and legumes to nutrients 
Description A method was required to enable the response of white clover and grass to different levels of nutrients to be effectively quantified in a way appropriate for the numbers of planst within a mapping family. I novel approach involving the NPPC at IBERS has been developed and has provided valuable images, initially on the reponse of white clover to different levels of P. 
Type Of Material Physiological assessment or outcome measure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact An innovative approach for quanifying plant growth in response to nutrients- particulalrly suited to the growth of species such as white clover which spreads through horiziontal stolons. 
 
Description ATP visit to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 24th Oct 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact ATP visit to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters) - 24th Oct 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Lecture to undergraduates 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact An introduction to plant breeding
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Lemnatec-hosted visit of Korean academics to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 21st Oct 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lemnatec-hosted visit of Korean academics to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters) - 21st Oct 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation to Wynnstay farming group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact presentation to group from Wynnstay on the research on forage grasses and legumes at which this project formed an integral part.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Project presented to Germinal Scotland seed merchants training course at IBERS - 1st Dec 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Project presented to Germinal Scotland seed merchants training course at IBERS - 1st Dec 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit by 2 groups of IBERS 2nd year Undergrads for NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 12th and 13th Dec 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Visit by 2 groups of IBERS 2nd year Undergrads for NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters)
- 12th and 13th Dec 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit by 3 groups of SUSnet 6th Form students to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 14th, 15th, 16th Nov 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Visit by 3 groups of SUSnet 6th Form students to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters) - 14th, 15th, 16th Nov 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit by BBSRC to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 30th Nov 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Visit by BBSRC (David Parfyn's PA, from AIEC visit) to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters) - 30th Nov 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit by FUW group to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 1st Nov 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Visit by FUW group to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters)
- 1st Nov 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit by IBERS students for NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 25th Nov 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Visit by IBERS students on Food, Farming and Environmental Module for NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters) - 25th Nov 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit by Llysfasi Coleg Cambria Students to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 11th Nov 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Visit by Llysfasi Coleg Cambria Students to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters)
- 11th Nov 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit by Newtown Coleg BTec students to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 9th Nov 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Visit by Newtown Coleg BTec students to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters)
- 9th Nov 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit by academics from Nanjing and Poland to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 10th Jan 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Visit by academics from Nanjing and Poland to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters) - 10th Jan 2017
Nanjing & Polish visitors Professor Yule Zhuang, Director, Institute of Botany, Jiangsu province and Chinese Academy of Sciences (JIB-CAS), Professor Yunlong Yin, Director, Department of Scientific Research Project Management, Institute of Botany, Jiangsu province and Chinese Academy of Sciences (JIB-CAS), Professor Jianxiu Liu, Director, Research Center of Ornamental Plants, Head of grass research team, Institute of Botany, Jiangsu province and Chinese Academy of Sciences
Dr. Marta (Katowice Poland), Jacek Krzyzak (Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas, Katowice, Poland)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Visit by group of Germinal seed growers and merchants to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 1st Dec 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Visit by group of Germinal seed growers and merchants to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters) - 1st Dec 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit by group of Germinal seed growers and merchants to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 29th Nov 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Visit by group of Germinal seed growers and merchants to IBERS and NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters) - 29th Nov 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visit by group of IBERS students for NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway - 29th Nov 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Visit by group of IBERS FsSc Agri and Countryside students for NPPC tour including showing the APPLE work underway (white clover plants with and without Phosphate growing in gutters) - 29th Nov 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016