Grass and forage crop specialist Germinal has established a new research station at an 11 acre site near Melksham in Wiltshire. The station will carry out a programme of trials and development work designed to help UK farmers improve the production and utilisation of homegrown feed for livestock. The company has also recruited forage crop expert Dr Joanna Matthews to manage the facility from January next year.

Germinal GB managing director Paul Billings says the investment will create a knowledge hub to benefit UK livestock farmers and the wider industry when the need to maximise returns from forage is greater than it has ever been. The Wiltshire research station will be integrated with the company’s herbage breeding programme at IBERS Aberystwyth University and will also provide facilities for Germinal to collaborate with many other industry partners on projects.

“Greater innovation in the use of forage is the key to reducing cost of production in livestock farming,” Mr Billings notes. “Lower costs are the only real antidote to increased commodity price volatility and the uncertainty that abounds as we approach Brexit.

“Having a bespoke R&D facility will allow Germinal to showcase market-leading varieties, test innovative ideas in UK conditions and demonstrate at a local level alternative forage species or cropping systems that we are bringing in from around the world.

“We already have plans for over forty projects at the site, which will include trialling new forage varieties in UK conditions, testing concepts such as multi-species leys and investigating the regrowth potential of hybrid brassicas.”

● From a family livestock farming background Dr Matthews joined NIAB in 2013 after completing her PhD on the potential for fertility-building crops in mixed farming systems. “She brings to Germinal a valuable combination of practical farming knowledge and progressive plant science experience,” states Mr Billings.