Forage specialist Germinal is to establish its own research station to spearhead a new programme of trials and development work geared to helping UK farmers improve the production and utilisation of homegrown feed.
The 11-acre facility, located near Melksham in Wiltshire, will be managed by forage crop specialist Dr Joanna Matthews, who leaves her post at NIAB to join Germinal in January 2018.
Germinal GB Managing Director Paul Billings believes the development will create an unrivalled knowledge hub that will benefit UK livestock farmers and the wider industry at a time when the need to maximise returns from forage is greater than it has ever been.
“Greater innovation in the use of forage is the key to reducing cost of production in livestock farming,” he says. “Lower costs are the only real antidote to increased commodity price volatility and the uncertainty that abounds as we approach Brexit.
“Having a bespoke R&D facility will allow Germinal to showcase market-leading varieties, test innovative ideas in UK conditions, and demonstrate at a local level alternative forage species or cropping systems that we are bringing in from around the world.
“The research station will be integrated with our herbage breeding programme at IBERS Aberystwyth University and will provide facilities for Germinal to collaborate with many other industry partners on projects of great significance and benefit to the wider industry.
“We already have plans for over forty projects at the site, which will include trialling new forage varieties in UK conditions, testing concepts such as multi-species leys and investigating the regrowth potential of hybrid brassicas, for example.”
Dr Joanna Matthews joined NIAB in 2013 having gained a BSc in Agriculture and completing a PhD that focused on the potential for fertility-building crops in mixed farming systems. Having grown up and worked on the family livestock farm, Dr Matthews brings to Germinal a valuable combination of practical farming knowledge and progressive plant science experience.