After 15 years in the country, United Kingdom and Ireland–based international seed company Germinal has made significant changes to its approach to the New Zealand market.
This season it is stepping up with a full range of products and with Kiwi Sarah Gard at the helm as General Manager.
While Germinal is a large company internationally, Sarah says the team in New Zealand is small – just her and Sales Manager Andrew Miller, with a new research technician commencing soon.
She is confident though, as Germinal NZ has the backing of the global team to offer an extensive range of well–researched and proven products to New Zealand farmers, complemented by her and Andrew’s ‘Kiwi know–how’.
“Andrew and I are both farmers,” Sarah says. “This means we understand what farmers need. Those needs are always at the forefront of our minds in all the decisions we make. We’ve a full range of proven Germinal products available this spring that we know will perform well for farmers in New Zealand conditions.”
Sarah is focusing on developing Germinal’s plant breeding programme in New Zealand. She holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and commenced working for Germinal (through Genetic Technologies) in 2014 to establish the research programme here. She then became Trials and Product Development Manager for Germinal, before becoming General Manager earlier this year.
“Our Research and Development programme in New Zealand involves plot trials where we test our current commercial varieties, and new breeding lines, against other commercial varieties. I’m also running a new plant breeding programme where we are breeding new Germinal varieties for New Zealand, in New Zealand.”
Sarah says the breeding programme is exciting because it is the first time any material has been taken outside of Germinal’s R&D partner, the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) in Wales, a world renowned centre of excellence in plant breeding.
“Using IBERS material we are selecting for the traits we want in a New Zealand environment, such as increasing the early spring growth in our perennial ryegrass.”
Kiwi farmers do not, however, have to wait until the New Zealand trials lead to new pasture grasses and clovers, the existing Germinal products are already performing well in New Zealand conditions.
“This is where Andrew comes in,” Sarah says. “We have a full range of products available this spring, including our Aber High Sugar Grasses (Aber HSG), and our white X Caucasian clover, AberLasting.”
Andrew says Germinal’s Aber HSG are a point of difference in the New Zealand market.
“I am convinced that Aber HSG are the way the pasture industry in New Zealand will have to go,” Andrew says, “especially as we focus on managing nitrogen and methane while still achieving the desired animal growth rates and milk production farmers need for their business to prosper.
“Higher sugar means more energy, and this is significant in the way it helps ruminant livestock improve their conversion of grass protein into meat and milk. Aber HSG creates a better balance of energy and protein in the rumen, allowing the microbes responsible for the breakdown of forage to operate more efficiently, so more protein is converted to milk and meat, and less is excreted into the environment. New Zealand data also shows that methane gases are reduced when stock are fed on Aber HSG.”