Pasture plant breeding in New Zealand: where to from here?
AbstractEcologically sustainable pastures remain the base of New Zealand's competitive advantage in livestock production, but while modest but steady productivity gains from pasture plant breeding have been documented, these appear to be difficult to convert to livestock production, and pasture production is perceived as up against a ceiling. This paper discusses the contribution of pasture plant breeding, focusing on the ryegrasses, and to a lesser extent on white clover. Heritable variation is evident in the basic components of herbage growth and herbage quality. However, changes to individual traits are not reflected in improved integrated field performance. More precise information is required on how factors interact. New breeding technologies will allow integrated improvement of interacting factors. Evaluation trials and modelling should be managed to provide feed-back identifying the specific requirements of future high-performing systems. Keywords: New Zealand, plant breeding, ryegrass, white clover