Jo Grigg: Clover to get excited about

Jo Grigg: Clover to get excited about

OPINION: I love subterranean clover – it’s the annual plant that endures drought by burying its own seed and its leaves are rocket fuel for stock. It makes a Corriedale ewe milk like a Friesian.

But when I listened to Dom George’s interview with John Caradus, I realised there could possibly be another clover in my life.

White clover with boosted tannins. Enough fabulous tannin to reduce methane production from the ruminants that eat it, and cut their nitrogen loss significantly. Enough tannin to stop that frothy foaming caused by protein breakdown – causing that dreaded deathtrap bloat. It helps sheep and cattle naturally resist parasites.

Sign me up.

Jo Grigg: Clover to get excited about The purple stain shows up the beneficial tannins in this new High-Tannin White Clover (on the right). The left one is the bog-standard White Clover.

There is a catch. New Zealand's current HSNO ACT regulations are set in a way to prevent its trial here, let alone its introduction. This is because the plant breeding technique used is genetic modification.

In this case, a closely related clover gene has been put into white clover, to turn on more tannin production in the leaf.

It looks like, politically, there is a willingness to review the regulations. Before the conversation starts, farmers and growers should get up to speed.

This interview is an excellent way to get your head around the debate.

Some take-home messages from John the plant-breeder are “balance the risks and benefits 

of the product itself, not the techniques.”

“Are the perceived trade barriers from not being GE-free real?”

The Australian example where some States are GE-free and some not, suggests no, he said.

“We need to talk to our trading partners and see for instance, how our trade might be impacted if we have GE white clover.”

This chat should be compulsory listening for everyone in agriculture.

Listen to the full chat between Grasslanz Technology CEO John Caradus and Dominic George above.

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