Germinal, Origin Enterprises and Aberystwyth University have secured funding worth almost €4m from the UK government to prove new pasture varieties and grazing systems on commercial farms.

Project ‘NUE-Leg’ will look at new innovations in plant breeding, soil microbiology, nutrition and grassland management to achieve improvements in the capacities of legumes, such as white and red clovers, in combination with soil microbes, to fix nitrogen from fresh air and make this available to grasslands.

The project will test some of the new varieties of grass and clovers being developed by Germinal at the plant breeding centre in Aberystwyth, Wales.

Origin Enterprises, which owns the Gouldings brand of fertiliser in Ireland, is also part of the project.

New varieties

Some of the new plant varieties that will be trialled include varieties which have tannins that can reduce methane emissions and other varieties which improve uptake of protein thereby reducing ammonia emissions.

The overall aim of the project is to develop a grassland system in commercial farm settings that can fix up to 300kg N/ha year thereby doing away with the need for chemical nitrogen.

Germinal has secured funding from the UK government to lead a new research project on zero synthetic nitrogen pasture systems.

Commenting on the announcement, MD of Germinal UK and Ireland Paul Billings said: “We want to achieve a threefold increase in the capacity of clovers to fix atmospheric nitrogen up to 300kg nitrogen per hectare per year and thereby eliminate the need for chemical nitrogen fertilisers.

"This project has the potential to be truly transformative for grassland farming globally. It could be a game-changer in both cutting emissions and in supporting farm profitability.”