Forage Science

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The group's goal is to increase the resilience of pasture-based agriculture by improving the performance of forages within pastures. This is being achieved through the applications of genetics, investigation of management approaches, and the discovery of microbes for biocontrol of pasture pests.

Research activities are focused on delivery of impacts for pastoral sector and fall into the following general areas:

  • Increasing genetic gain by integrating across genomics, genetics, phenomics and germplasm resources and focusing the forage improvement pipeline on pre-breeding/trait discovery, genomic selection and GM forages.

  • Increasing our understanding of soil biological processes to develop new management practices and products to enhance pasture production and the nutrient and water use efficiency of forages.

  • Investigating the biology of interactions between endophytes and their hosts to discover or to develop novel endophytic microbial species.

 

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  • Increasing our understanding of new and existing biosecurity threats (weeds, pests and diseases) to develop new or improved mitigation and management options and policy advice.
Teams within this group
  • Forage Genetics
  • Soil Biology
  • Plant Functional Biology
  • Plant-Fungal Interactions
  • Biocontrol & Biosecurity
  • Plant Biotechnology

Our Team

Dr. Tony Conner
Dr. Tony Conner

Science Group Leader
Forage Science

Email Tony

Dr. David Hume
Dr. David Hume

Science Impact Leader
Forage Production, Meat & Fibre

Email David

Dr. Kioumars Ghamkhar
Dr. Kioumars Ghamkhar

Director
Margot Forde Forage Germplasm Centre

Email Kioumars

Dr. Nigel Bell
Dr. Nigel Bell

Science Team Leader
Soil Biology

Email Nigel

Dr. Marcelo Carena
Dr. Marcelo Carena

Science Team Leader
Forage Genetics
Email Marcelo

Dr. Jim Crush
Dr. Jim Crush

Science Team Leader
Plant Functional Biology

Email Jim

Dr. Linda Johnson
Dr. Linda Johnson

Science Team Leader
Plant/Fungal Interactions

Email Linda

Dr. Alison Popay
Dr. Alison Popay

Science Team Leader
Biocontrol & Biosecurity

Email Alison

Dr. Richard Scott
Dr. Richard Scott

Science Team Leader
Plant Biotechnology

Email Richard

SPOTLIGHT ON SCIENCE

Hogget fertility and what it means for farmers

Featuring Dr. Jenny Juengel

Hoggets are female sheep that have lambs for the first time at one year old, whereas typically on New Zealand sheep farms the female sheep first give birth at two years of age. Often the impediments to hogget lambing are the changes required to farm systems, and inefficiencies in reproduction. AgResearch has studied this area of reproduction to better understand it, and look at ways to improve the efficiency of hogget lambing. Principal scientist Dr Jenny Juengel talks through the issues and potential benefits it can bring sheep farmers, including improved profitability and a reduced environmental footprint.

Strategic winter grazing

Featuring Dr Seth Laurenson & colleagues

With farmers always on the lookout out for simple, cheap methods to improve their farm systems, AgResearch and partner DairyNZ undertook practical research to provide just that. This strategic winter grazing research has developed low–cost approaches for farmers to better manage their land in winter conditions. Our scientists say the pick-up from farmers has been amongst the highest we have seen here at AgResearch – which tells us it’s making a real difference. Here the team talk about how they went about it, the methods, and what the areas of benefit are for the farmers.

Sharon the mutant sheep

Featuring Dr Jeff Plowman

Sharon the Felting Lustre mutant sheep has become somewhat of a celebrity since the media spotlight came on in her in early 2017. She was even featured on the BBC!
This rare kind of sheep has straight wool instead of the usual crimped wool, and presents opportunities for our scientists to learn more about the wool structure and how it might lead to new wool products, as well as what it can tell us about human hair.
In this video, AgResearch scientist Jeff Plowman – who has researched these mutant sheep - talks about Sharon and how she is helping add to our understanding.

A new generation ryegrass

Featuring Dr. Greg Bryan

AgResearch, supported by Government and industry partners, is developing a new kind of ryegrass we think could be a gamechanger for agriculture. The genetically modified High Metabolisable Energy ryegrass has been shown in the lab to grow up to 50 per cent faster than conventional ryegrass, to be able to store more energy for better animal growth, to be more resistant to drought, and to produce up to 23 per cent less methane (the largest single contributor to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions) from livestock. Our principal scientist Dr Greg Bryan talks about the next stage - field testing.

Maori Agribusiness

Featuring Pakihiroa Farms Ltd

What aspects of Māoridom are our partners taking into consideration when farming? Hilton Collier of Pakihiroa Farms, owned by Ngati Porou, talks about their priorities in farming and how decisions are made based on five pou. AgResearch Māori Agribusiness Sector Manager, Chris Koroheke, discusses what working in Māoridom involves.
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