Meat & Livestock News

Opting for Budget Seed Could Cost Farmers More, PBRA Advises


  • The NZ Plant Breeders and Research Association (PBRA) cautions farmers against choosing cheap, common seeds over certified proprietary options, highlighting potential long-term issues.
  • Proprietary seeds undergo extensive breeding and testing, ensuring quality and reducing risks like weed contamination or poor germination.
  • Farmers using proprietary seeds benefit from genetic advancements and comprehensive agronomic support without additional costs.

Farmers considering cost-saving measures by selecting lower-priced common seeds for re-grassing and cropping this autumn are being advised to think again. The NZ Plant Breeders and Research Association (PBRA) has issued a warning about the potential pitfalls of opting for such seeds over modern, proprietary alternatives.

According to the PBRA, the allure of saving upfront can lead to unforeseen long-term problems, including poor crop establishment and increased weed control costs.

Alick Elliott, PGG Wrightson Seeds’ General Manager of Marketing, emphasises the clarity and assurance that come with choosing proprietary cultivars. These seeds are the result of over a decade of meticulous breeding and selection, involving an investment of around $1 million per cultivar.

This rigorous process ensures that farmers receive high-quality seeds tailored to meet specific regional challenges and pest or disease pressures. In contrast, uncertified or unknown seeds may introduce a host of issues, such as weed infestations, low germination rates, or undesirable endophytes, potentially undermining animal performance and farm productivity.

The establishment of new pastures involves significant pre-sowing expenses, including soil preparation and fertilisation. Elliott argues that skimping on seed quality after such investments is a gamble not worth taking.

Simon Larsen, General Manager at Germinal Seeds, further points out that opting for common seeds means missing out on the genetic improvements achieved through modern plant breeding. These advancements include the development of new cultivars with enhanced resistance to pests like the Argentine stem weevil or black beetle, thanks to the latest endophytes.

Farmers who choose proprietary seeds not only gain access to superior plant genetics but also receive extensive agronomic support from experienced professionals. This advice, covering all aspects of crop management, comes at no additional cost, adding value to the investment in quality seed.

The PBRA’s message is clear: while budget seeds may appear cost-effective initially, the long-term benefits of proprietary seeds far outweigh the initial savings, offering a more sustainable and profitable approach to farming.