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Power of four helps clover production

Superior pasture production is what keeps New Zealand at the forefront of world beef and lamb markets. To ensure we remain there, Meat New Zealand is involved in a consortium using biotechnology to improve white clover production, says Meat New Zealand research and development general manager Neil Clarke.

Pastoral Genomics is a joint venture between Meat New Zealand, ViaLactia Biosciences Ltd, DEEResearch and AgResearch, Clarke said. "The consortium approach allows us to harness resources, leverage government funding through the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST) and still gain the benefits of the research, which we in turn pass onto sheep and beef farmers." The consortium will receive $12.5 million in government funding over the next five years, while the consortium partners will also contribute at least that amount.

The consortium will use biotechnology to speed up the development of both new and improved species of white clover. "We plan to exploit the untapped segments and information of the clover genome, which may help us to promote changes in the agricultural efficiency of clover. The technology is superior to that currently being used by our international competitors," Clarke said.

White clover is an important part of New Zealand pastures because it fixes free nitrogen, is very nutritious, adaptable and can withstand grazing stress and interspecies competition, Clarke said. "The reason New Zealand can compete with other highly subsidised foreign beef and lamb producers is that we can produce low cost pasture. Animals in many other countries are fed supplements or taken to feedlots to be finished, adding significantly to the cost of meat production."

"It is imperative that we maintain this advantage through research aimed at increasing our pastures productivity," Clarke said. (source -Meat Matters)




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