Research proves that DLF’s PLUS-grasses support farms better during drought

Spring and summer droughts are here to stay. But that doesn’t mean yields and profits have to take a dive. Adding PLUS-grasses to your forage mixtures improves the way swards respond to drought. They keep farmers on track through a dry spring and a summer of low rainfall.

Improved drought-resistance grass and forage protects agricultural profits

During hot, dry summers valuable grassland loses its lush green colour. The longer the drought, the more brown the grass becomes. Week by week, the grass additionally loses biomass, and dry-matter yields decline. Europe’s increasingly frequent spring and summer droughts are creating more forage gaps that reduce agricultural profits.

The solution is to sow grasses with increased drought-tolerance. During dry periods, they buffer against yield losses and help maintain profits. Specialised grasses and herbal leys in research trials have proven drought tolerance.

Climate change makes dry periods more likely

Since no one can predict the weather for the year ahead, there will always be uncertainty for farmers and for the forage grasses they grow. But things are changing. In recent years (2018, 2019 and 2020), drought has been a more frequent problem across many regions of Europe. You can see a snapshot of the extent of the 2018 drought below. The image is from the European Commission's Combined Drought Indicator for a ten-day period during August 2018. The lack of rainfall affected Germany, The Netherlands, Southern Europe, and even Ireland, the UK and Scandinavia.

Combined Drought Indicator for the second ten-day period of August 2018 (Source: European Commission, 2021)

Combined Drought Indicator for the second ten-day period of August 2018 (Source: European Commission, 2021)

Research proves that PLUS-grasses are more drought-tolerant

DLF Irelands’s goal is to bring drought-tolerant grass varieties to the market to secure forage yields. The superior drought-tolerance of Ryegrass PLUS and Tall Fescue PLUS, has been proven twice over: by ongoing research at the unique RadiMax root-screening facility and by measurement of agronomic performance across DLF’s worldwide field-testing network. The results from RadiMax and field testing clearly show that Ryegrass PLUS and Tall Fescue PLUS are an efficient solution to the drought challenges of the future.

Drought- tolerance and increased yield potential with PLUS-grasses

"Working with established research institutes, DLF researchers look to find solutions to drought damage for farmers. We look above and below the ground, to see what’s happening to the grass, and how the mechanisms of root growth, work to develop robust drought-tolerant grasses. As part of our securing forage yields goal we will be bringing the drought tolerant PLUS Ryegrass and Tall Fescue to the Irish Market next year", said Dr. Thomas Moloney, DLF Ireland Technical Manager.

Ryegrass PLUS: Ryegrass PLUS displays dominant ryegrass characteristics with the added benefits of fescues. The pairing gives it the ability to grow deeper roots. This makes Ryegrass PLUS ideal for boosting the drought-tolerance and forage quality of overseeding mixtures. With Ryegrass PLUS in a mixture, yield potential and energy content are increased, and the persistency of the sward is improved.

Tall fescue PLUS: Tall Fescue PLUS displays dominant tall fescue characteristics with the added benefits of ryegrass. Incorporating the deep-rooting feature of Tall Fescue PLUS in a mixture increases its tolerance to climate changes, while raising yield potential and forage quality. Tall fescue PLUS is ideal for long-lasting mixtures. It improves forage digestibility and secures farm profits through high drought-tolerance.

Plus grasses will be coming to Ireland in 2022 exclusively from DLF.

About RadiMax

RadiMax facility – a DLF root-screening project run in cooperation with Copenhagen University

DLF – together with Copenhagen University – is researching the root architecture of turf and forage grass varieties at the RadiMax facility. RadiMax is the world’s most advanced root-screening facility. It lets researchers capture images of growing roots down to a depth of 3.0 m.

At the same time, the plants can be exposed to increasing degrees of drought through a controlled soil-moisture gradient. Researchers can see how different grasses perform during a drought, and directly relate their performance to their root architecture. As these varieties progess through the various trials Irish farmers will begin so see them in their DLF mixtures.

If you would like more information please contact Dr. Thomas Moloney