The DairyFeedbase Future Forage Value Index (FFVI) project is aiming to develop a 'next generation' Forage Value Index (FVI) for the Australian dairy industry that delivers at least 20 per cent more value from the purchase of the optimal proven cultivar for a particular farm system within different regions.
This innovation will allow the comparison of additional traits such as persistence and nutritive characteristics, using advanced automated measurement technologies and the deployment of genomic tools in the prediction of cultivar performance across a broader range of species and environments.
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This project will allow further rapid development and refinement of the existing FVI through access to a larger pool of data, including not only dry matter yield but also nutritive characteristics and persistence.
This means the FVI for each species will become more accurate and relevant for farmers and accelerate the adoption of superior pasture genetics into the industry.
The updated FVI framework will incorporate new plant and endophyte technologies and be suited to new breeding technologies such as F1 hybrids (being developed within DairyBio).
The technologies developed by the FFVI will be used to create new indexes for Italian and annual ryegrasses plus non-ryegrass species that are also relevant to Australian dairy farmers.
"The future forages climate modelling conducted by Agriculture Victoria for dairy regions indicates how our current feedbase system will need to adapt to future changes in temperature and rainfall patterns," Agriculture Victoria's senior research fellow and Melbourne University Professor Kevin Smith said.
"There are species currently available that can adapt to the predicted hotter and drier conditions though they may have inherent challenges for use as a dairy pasture.
"Enhanced measurement and reporting of key characteristics will be important to allow Australian farmers to select the best cultivars for their region within each species."
As part of assisting farmers to adapt to the changing climate, the project will continue to develop and validate sensor-based technologies for species other than perennial ryegrass and during 2020/21 image-based protocols will be further enhanced to quantify the persistence of perennial ryegrass in pasture cultivar plots.
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