Drought-tolerant grass could be lifesaver for livestock farmers

A new drought-tolerant Festulolium hybrid grass species could help livestock farmers worried about future grass shortages.

Perseus, a cross between a fescue and a ryegrass, is about to make its UK debut in grass mixtures available from Countrywide.

The species has been developed by DLF-Trifoilium and is said to be particularly effective in areas prone to dry conditions or where grass is short.

This grass has been specifically bred to produce a high-quality, high-yielding grass that is drought tolerant and can withstand higher levels of stress and climate extremes, compared to traditional ryegrass species, explained Simon Trenary, Countrywide agronomist.

“These new Advance Hybrid Ryegrasses are now suitable for both catch crop requirements and grass mixtures.”

In the first year of UK trials, where stress was not a limiting factor, Perseus out-yielded perennial ryegrass by 31%.

The variety also showed quality improvements over Italian ryegrass and was only slightly below perennial ryegrass with an ME of 11.3MJ/kg DM compared to 11.4MJ/kg DM.

However, according to DLF Trifolium, although Perseus performs like Italian Ryegrass in the field, the main advantage is its tolerance of stress.

Independent trials in Denmark, found the variety was still out-performing perennial ryegrass by 24% in the third year. In the same situation, Italian ryegrass would have almost certainly disappeared by year three.