ASNZ_2020_01._Adapting_forages.pdf (377.98 kB)

Adapting forages to climate changes and lower environmental footprint

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-10, 07:42 authored by Nicholas DaviesNicholas Davies, Marcelo Carena, Phil Rolston
New Zealand (NZ) agriculture is likely to enter the NZ greenhouse emissions budget and see additional costs and restrictions. However, farmers do not have options to adapt to new environmental requirements with NZ crops and pastures currently bred and managed with reliable water, fertilisers, and pesticides. This requires breeding and testing across a large sample of genetic resources and strategic climatic conditions. The Margot Forde Forage Germplasm Centre has thousands of forage accessions ready to be utilised for pre-breeding efforts under environmental stresses. No genetic tool or breeding method can be successful if germplasm choice is poor. Once germplasm is identified for desired environmental traits, breeding techniques for genetically complex traits (e.g. drought and heat tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency) can be applied to develop cultivars with desirable attributes. The use of alternative recurrent selection methods from other species may now be possible in forage breeding programmes, purging deleterious alleles from populations faster than traditionally achieved. The exploitation of heterosis with reciprocal recurrent selection programmes can provide the next generation of successful forage semi-hybrid cultivars. New developments in agronomy should complement breeding research to best utilise environmental interactions with new genetics. This discussion paper encourages forage breeding programmes, forage value indices, and government funded science to tackle critical needs to develop forage cultivars with enhanced performance under low input systems. This will ultimately provide an option currently unavailable to farmers to adapt to climate changes and reduce the environmental impacts on their farms.


Rights statement

Open Access


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No


Agronomy Society of New Zealand

Journal title

Agronomy New Zealand


Davies, N., Carena, M. J., & Rolston, P. (2020). Adapting forages to climate changes and lower environmental footprint. Agronomy New Zealand, 50, 1–13.

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