A novel grass hybrid to reduce flood generation in temperate regions

Christopher (Kit) J. A. Macleod, Mike W. Humphreys, W. Richard Whalley, Lesley Turner, Andrew Binley, Chris W. Watts, Leif Skøt, Adrian Joynes, Sarah Hawkins, Ian P. King, Sally O'Donovan, Philip M. Haygarth

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We report on the development of a novel grass hybrid that provides efficient forage production and mitigates flooding. Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) is the grass species of choice for most farmers, but lacks resilience against extremes of climate. We hybridised L. perenne onto a closely related and more stress-resistant grass species, meadow fescue Festuca pratensis. We demonstrate that the L. perenne × F. pratensis cultivar can reduce runoff by 51% compared to a leading UK nationally recommended L. perenne cultivar and by 43% compared to F. pratensis over a two year field experiment. We present evidence that the reduced runoff from this Festulolium cultivar was due to intense initial root growth followed by rapid senescence, especially at depth. Hybrid grasses of this type show immense potential for reducing the likelihood of flooding whilst providing food production under conditions of changing climate.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1683
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2013


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