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Rural roundup: Super grass, wool skepticism, key Aussie scientist moves to NZ

Rural roundup: Super grass, wool skepticism, key Aussie scientist moves to NZ
Here are a selection of current stories from “Super grass” aims to boost milk production Researchers planning on launching a genetically-engineered “super-grass” by 2013 claim cows grazing on it will produce up to 20 percent more milk. The GE ryegrass – being developed in Australia for NZ seed company PGG Wrightson – has potential to make a huge difference to agriculture, according to the chief executive of the Australia’s Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre (MPBCRC), Glenn Tong. Existing dairy farming pasture-grasses are mainly perennial ryegrass and tall fescue, but the perennial ryegrass grows best in temperate areas that are becoming warmer with climate change reports Stuff. Mr Tong told the ABC that the technology works to increase the carbohydrates or energy molecules in the grass, and the fodder will also be more digestible than existing ryegrass so the sheep and cows can access those energy molecules more easily. Read the rest of this entry » Can collective spirit pull wool over industrys eyes I admit to being sceptical about the latest efforts to find a way to dig wool prices from the trough they have fallen into over the past 40 years. After being studied by committees, consultants, a network and a task force, the NZ industry is still floundering. Now, the problem is to be put into the hands of one person, a sort of “wool czar”. He has my deepest sympathies. The appointment, yet to be made, follows the release of a report by a task force set up by Agriculture Minister David Carter. It concluded that the industry’s large number of interest groups did not share a “co-ordinated, overarching vision or strategy” and recommended establishing a marketing group that could leverage government funds for “partnerships in market-led wool research and innovation projects”. Read the rest of this entry » Leading Australian scientist joins the DairyNZ team David Chapman, currently Professor of Pasture Science at the University of Melbourne, will join DairyNZ as a principal scientist midyear. He will join DairyNZ as a principal scientist and lead the team responsible for developing more and better feed, and improving farm systems. David will be responsible for work nationwide and will be based on the Lincoln University campus, reflecting DairyNZ’s commitment to South Island dairy farming. David, born in Geraldine, is a Lincoln graduate who started work with DSIR (now AgResearch), completing a PhD in the UK before moving to Australia in 1996. DairyNZ Chief Scientist Eric Hillerton said David’s return home brings key skills in pasture and grazing management, dairy forage production and development of pasture-based livestock systems to benefit all of New Zealand’s dairy farmers. Read the rest of this entry » For up-to-date schedule and saleyard prices, see - Bulls - Steers - Lamb - Wool - Dairy cows - Stags

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