Why ‘niche’ markets may be the future for grass seed sales in Ireland

Supplying the market with alternative or niche grass seeds is one of the aims of DLF Seeds Ireland, one of the newest grass and forage seed providers on the Irish market.

According to the company’s General Manager Paul Flanagan, breeding suitable grasses for the market is a numbers game.

Speaking at a recent open day on its 50ac trial site in Co. Waterford, he said that it takes over 800 grass seed varieties to produce just four varieties suitable for the Irish market.

Flanagan said the research trials carried out by the company, which is a joint venture of the Danish-based co-op DLF and Seed Technology, aim to produce perennial ryegrass varieties that are commercially viable.

Perennial ryegrass pastures dominate the reseeding scene, accounting for 95% of all the seed used in reseeding in Ireland, as they are capable of supporting 300 days grazing on an annual basis.

The grasses are trialed under a number of perimeters, he said, with a focus on dry matter yield, quality, ground cover and persistence.

But, he said, the current method of determining a grass varieties potential, the recommended list, is a closed system and there is a place for niche grass varieties on the market.

Over the coming years, we will be bringing varieties to the market that are outside of the recommended list.

Flanagan said there are some perennial ryegrass varieties which fail to make it on to the recommended list, but have the potential to increase the amount of spring grass grown on farms, and the company may make these varieties avaialbe in the future.

He also said that the company is looking to increase the availability of alternative grasses to the Irish market such as hybrids, Italian ryegrass and Festuloliums (a cross between ryegrass and fescue).

It terms of the varieties the company already provides, he said that the perennial ryegrass Boyne continues to lead the way in terms of silage yield.

But, he added, that there are new varieties coming on stream that produce a 10% higher yield silage yield.