CIEL | Member Spotlight

Genetics | Reproduction | Behaviour | Nutrition | Health & Welfare | Productivity | Food Integrity | Environmental Impact



Germinal are a 7th generation family owned specialist grass seed company dating back to 1825 and are proud to be one of the founding industry members of CIEL. Their success is built on research, variety development, science and knowledge driving all future products and business.

Among their product portfolio is the internationally renowned Aber High Sugar Grass range. These award winning mixtures have boosted farm incomes and reduced pollution of ammonia and methane by enabling the ruminant animal to convert more of the protein in grass to milk and meat, with less being emitted as pollutants. The economic and environmental value of HSG varieties have been recognised and adopted by leading retailers into their supply chain.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report recommends major changes to the way food is produced, in particular the need for changes in farming practices such as boosting yields from existing cropland, improving water management and restricting and recycling fertiliser use. The problems facing the industry are profound and no one company operating on its own can hope to answer these issues completely. A structure of collaboration and investment is needed to bring together like-minded partners, to develop innovative solutions and Germinal immediately saw CIEL as the vehicle to provide that framework.

To address key areas of the effects of climate change, Germinal continues to be significantly involved in plant and animal research. Working collaboratively through the whole food supply chain from plant breeding to the food retail sector, Germinal plays a vital role in the development of sustainable livestock production. It is currently funding leading research alongside BBSRC and is working with two CIEL research partners, Rothamsted North Wyke and IBERS, Aberystwyth University. This includes collaborations with the Waitrose supply chain, AHDB, BGS and other industry members and has resulted in Germinal producing a range of high yielding forage hybrids. While these are primarily based on perennial ryegrass, they do include important traits added from novel grasses. These have unique rooting capabilities, which both maximise production in times of drought and reduce the risk of flooding in wet periods.

Germinal also has a major Innovate UK funded project with Aberystwyth University developing new varieties of perennial ryegrass and white clover that combine the best in yield and quality attributes with enhanced nitrogen and phosphorus utilisation. This research will give livestock farmers the opportunity to produce quality forage with lower fertiliser inputs, thereby saving costs whilst reducing any negative environmental impacts caused by nutrient leaching, run–off and potential greenhouse gas emissions. Also being developed are novel types of the two main forage legumes – white and red clovers. The first of these, AberLasting, is now being utilised across the world.

A future area of innovation identified by Germinal, is the increase in polyunsaturated fatty acids in grasses, to improve animal performance, reduce emissions and potentially raise the human health factor of milk and red meats.

Germinal continues to invest in baseline research, near market product development, applied research and market demonstration and development as part of their long term vision. They have recently opened their own dedicated Research Station to work alongside and in conjunction with the research partners in CIEL.

Ultimately research and knowledge gain will offer farmers more sustainable options and as a company there is a responsibility to educate and facilitate a more positive food future for all.

Germinal have both short and long-term goals to bring benefits to farmers, consumers and the wider global environment. The world is changing, placing demands on today’s livestock farmers.

Consumers demand high quality products at competitive pricing, but they and governments want to see improved animal welfare, improvements to animal and human health with reductions to pollutants and emissions from a sustainable agricultural industry.”

Paul Billings, Managing Director of Germinal GB

CIEL and Germinal
Germinal were an early supporter of CIEL, joining as an Industry Member back in 2016. Since then, Germinal has been a keen supporter of CIEL and spoken at several key meetings around the power of industry-led innovation and ways to encourage greater collaboration between industry and academia.

Germinal have been actively involved in a working group led by CIEL focussed on improving livestock feed & nutrition across several themes – grass/crop genetics, harvesting & ensiling, feed formulation, milling, animal genetics, and waste.

Having the opportunity to participate in a group such as this is hugely beneficial for us. CIEL is an important facilitator in bringing industry together to discuss key issues the sector needs to address and identify ways to overcome them.

CIEL is a good support network. As a member, the team actively works on our behalf and we certainly recognise the value membership brings to our business.“

Paul Billings, Managing Director of Germinal GB

Man with young crop | Germinal

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