LINK: A Better Root System for a Better Environment

Project number:                    74328

Lead contractor:                   Aberystwyth University

Partners:                                LINK:

BBSRC, Rothamsed Research, Germinal Holdings, Waitrose, Dovecote Park, Dalehead Foods, Dairy Crest, BQP, Stonegate, Gressingham, Coombe Farm, Mole Valley Farmers, EBLEX, HCC, DairyCo, British Grassland Society

Start & end date:                   01 April 2014 – 31 March 2019


The Problem:

Developments in the technology behind grass breeding means that different traits can be selected for, e.g. root growth at depth by using the IBERS National Plant Phenomics Centre.

The main advantages of deep rooting varieties are: their ability to withstand extremes of wet and dry are improved; they can improve soil structure and could reduce flooding risk; and they potentially lead to greater carbon sequestrations as roots die deeper in the soil.

These advantages need to be proved in field trials, and North Wyke Farm Platform to test the varieties and mixtures.


Aims and Objectives:

  • To evaluate the impact of grass and clover mixtures on soils, and optimise the impacts of grass and clover root interactions for root growth and turnover for crop production, for soil structure, carbon content and hydrology
  • To measure the effects of root growth and root turnover on carbon deposition in sand trays measured progressively over a 3 year period. Genome regions for root growth and turn-over will be located and transferred into high quality cultivars
  • To evaluate field-scale sowing of Festulolium and Festulolium/clover mixtures at North Wyke on water and nutrient run-off measurements over seasons and years
  • To study the root development of the new varieties of drought resistance ryegrass and white clover in the IBERS phenomics facility, with genes for root growth identified and transferred into cultivars



It is a five year project funded by BBSRC, grass and water companies, and levy boards.  It will exploit the resources at IBERS and North Wyke to develop and test interesting grass and clover varieties.