New opportunities for the seed supply chain and dedicated seed growers are on the cards as RAGT seeks to expand its forage and soil health product portfolios.
Although RAGT has been involved in the grass, corn and soil health sectors for many years, many people are unaware of the extent of that involvement, says David Ramdhian, forage crop and soil health manager. floors.
“It often comes as a surprise, but we are currently involved with many partners within and beyond the RAGT Group. For example, Joordens, part of the RAGT portfolio, sells fodder, soil health and cover crops directly in the UK and through RAGT.
“With forage and amenity grasses, we have agreements with many other companies that take our products and put them in mixtures. Many well-known varieties are actually RAGTs, so we have a much larger market share than many realize.
RAGT’s forage grass offering was strengthened in 2019 with RAGT’s acquisition of the research activities of forage specialist Carneau, introducing another genetics to the program.
RAGT currently has four breeding stations and 16 breeding programs in its forage grass portfolio, but currently ryegrass production remains 100% UK-based, David explains.
“We have a very good pipeline of strains coming. Sales of pure seeds are increasing year on year, and we can also produce simple mixtures, which we are developing with merchant partners.
“Our portfolio is currently based on ryegrass and clover, but we are working on other species, so we will be looking to increase our seed contracts in this area.”
Until recently, all hobby weed in the UK was sold through external partners, but RAGT is now working more closely with the industry.
“We have many commercial varieties in the process of being tested, ready to be added to our already extensive portfolio, which feature in many turf mixes,” says David.
It’s another good news story with RAGT’s biggest slice of early material now in the UK National Roster Trials.
“Not everyone realizes that Agiraxx, the UK’s best-selling variety this century, was bred by RAGT,” says David. “It still surprises a lot of people.
“Our offering also includes two very good early varieties in RGT Duxxbury, which is expected to have its best year yet in 2022 and RGT Oxxgood.”
In the UK, the focus is now on precocity, which has been a small market in European terms. RAGT is currently developing a dedicated program to meet the needs of the UK and Northern European countries.
“This is potentially very good news for growers who want to harvest their crops in optimal conditions and establish subsequent crops in good time to protect soils,” says David.
RAGT is well established in this area, with a huge number of species arriving in the UK last year, a big step forward for the company.
However, the market is much more than a matter of size, says David. “These products have become more important as agricultural policy and environmental pressures drive change.
“But, although the concept is more accepted than it was a few years ago, there is still a lot of mystery about soil plant health.
“We really need to add a science element and more importantly illustrate the economic benefits so that we can clearly demonstrate why, when and where we should use different soil health species.”
RAGT has partnered with ADAS and Harper Adams University to further the science and has also embarked on a major European joint venture with Bayer on carbon capture.
The company is also running its own demonstration trials, at Ickleton in Cambridgeshire, examining the role of soil health plants in a wheat-based rotation, examining the effects on crops and soil.
“The first production of perennial amenity plants in the UK is already planned. We will need new seed growers to help us meet the demand.