In ForageSelect we learned how to select the most superior offspring by its genetic potential. Next step will be to use genomic selection to also identify parents that have the best match. This task is already being undertaken in a new project, which receives financial support from The Ministry of Environment and Food (GUDP) and runs until 2019.
While everybody can agree that it should have a high DM yield and be resistant to most diseases, it becomes a little more difficult to define how the other traits should look.
For silage production most farmers will prefer a highly digestible grass without too much sugar (to prevent alcohol production). For grazing it may be beneficial to have a high sugar content as grazing cattle needs a lot of energy.
For farmers in dry areas it may be very important to have a drought tolerant forage. But since such a survival-trait often implies costs for yield, farmers in well-watered areas may not want this tradeoff.
It all depends on the conditions and the purpose of the forage how it should look.
Genomic selection enables us to tailor new varieties for certain areas and conditions. Even before making the final field test we will have a good idea of how to make the perfect grass for a particular purpose. The prerequisite to do so is to establish a solid connection between the DNA sequence and all the traits we want to improve.