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How climate smart forage can reduce inputs and emissions

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Germinal is a leading forage specialist developing sustainable grassland varieties and supplying a range of premium agricultural seed to the UK, Irish and New Zealand markets.

Founded in 1825, Germinal is a 6th generation family company supporting farmers with technical advice and best practice guidance. Working within the industry and alongside partners to share grassland knowledge Germinal is committed to a responsible future for agriculture.

Focused research in plant breeding combined with innovative partnerships will facilitate a productive and sustainable food future for all.

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Call us on: 01522 868714

Farmers are increasingly required to produce food in a way that protects and enhances the environment.

While agriculture is feeding the nation, it is also estimated to be responsible for 83% of the UK’s ammonia emissions and 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

To improve how food is produced, the industry must continue to adapt and innovate; climate change is demanding transformation.

Carbon sequestration

Grass is part of that change. With grassland the UK’s largest crop, it is estimated there are 2bn tonnes of carbon sequestered in our grassland soils.

And good grassland management is a powerful tool in efforts to increase carbon capture and protect soil carbon storage.

Climate smart grass varieties

But grass must also continue to produce food efficiently and this needs high-performing, ‘climate-smart’ varieties. Grass varieties which require fewer inputs and result in reduced emissions from grazing livestock.

Germinal is addressing this challenge with Aber High Sugar Grasses (Aber HSG), a new generation of grasses scientifically proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ruminant livestock.

Aber HSG varieties contain higher levels of sugar, and therefore energy, than conventional ryegrasses.

Using this energy, rumen bacteria convert more of the plant protein into meat and milk. And with less protein wasted, ammonia and methane emissions are reduced.

With some farmers seeing 20% higher liveweight gains and 6% more milk/cow, these high sugar grasses combine productivity and performance with sustainability.

Germinal has also produced the first perennial festulolium to be listed on the Recommended Grass and Clover list. AberRoot is the product of crossing Festuca mairie (Atlas Fescue) and Aber HSG.

It has the forage quality of Aber HSG plus the rooting depth, drought and cold tolerance of a Fescue native to the Atlas Mountains in North Africa. Early indications show this particular species cross may improve nitrogen (N) proteolysis in the rumen.

Slowing the breakdown of protein allows ruminants to capture more for meat and milk production and omit less as greenhouses gases. This offers another exciting solution for combining productivity and environmental gains.

As a specialist plant breeder, with a commitment to research and development, Germinal continues to innovate in this area, working to develop products fit for the future.


Our work on clovers is no exception and also reflects the growing interest from farmers in using clover within a grassland system.

The nitrogen-fixing ability of legumes offers great potential for improving nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE), reducing the need for artificial N fertiliser.

In addition to previous work on increasing the persistency of red clover, Germinal is now developing new strains with a growth habit similar to white clover.

This gives added resilience to withstand grazing, while retaining red clover’s high-quality protein levels leading to a reduced reliance on bought-in protein supplements.

Similarly, more hybrid white clovers are being bred with a root system extending further below ground, as well as above, providing greater drought tolerance.

Sustainable forage crops

Farming today demands yield, quality and sustainable practices to meet net zero carbon targets.

Germinal’s Aber HSG range is a powerhouse forage crop helping you do this by supporting the environment and food security as well as your farming business.

To connect with a Germinal expert and learn more about how Germinal’s climate smart products can help your farm please visit: