Grasslands Innovation Limited

Grasslands Innovation Limited (GIL) is an incorporated joint venture between PGG Wrightson Seeds Holdings Limited (visit: and Grasslanz Technology Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of AgResearch: that aims to develop and commercialise proprietary forage technologies for pasture-based animal production systems. This includes investment in step change technologies such as novel endophytes, new breeding methods and biotechnology to create added economic value for farmers.

GIL has a board of directors made up of representatives from each shareholder and a management team that comprises a General Manager, Chief Scientist, Development Manager, Research Manager and Intellectual Property Manager.

All GIL products are commercialised exclusively through PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited.

Since the formation of this Joint Venture in 2007 over 40 new cultivars have been bred and released for commercialisation in New Zealand, Australia and internationally. Our ongoing breeding and development work is funded from the royalties received from sales of the forage cultivars that we breed.

GIL develops new cultivars for temperate regions globally and has more recently commenced work in annual legumes through the Annual Legume Breeding Australia (ALBA) joint venture.

We have active plant breeding programmes at:

  • Grasslands Research Centre, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  • Ruakura Research Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand
  • Kimihia Research Centre, Lincoln, New Zealand 
  • Leigh Creek, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
  • University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
  • University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia,  Australia
  • University of Georgia, Georgia, USA
  • Texas A&M University, Texas, USA
  • Instituto Nacional de Investigacion Agropecuaria (INIA), Uruguay 
  • Cedara - ARC, South Africa

In New Zealand we have three core breeding locations, each with a core breeding focus, as well as providing a network of sites for multi-environment testing of elite lines.

Palmerston North and Lincoln have additional focus on germplasm exploration and endophyte integration. Lincoln is also a key site for seed production screening and multiplication.

In Australia our main locations for breeding are Armidale on the NSW Tablelands (sheep and beef focus), Ballarat (sheep focus), Maryborough (drought focus) and Terang (dairy focus).  Other locations are used for regional testing of elite germplasm.


Research within Grasslands Innovation is contracted to PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited, AgResearch and Grasslanz Technology. The research priorities are set by the GIL board and delivery against these priorities is undertaken by the management team.

Our focus is on conventional breeding where we have produced market leading ryegrass, tall fescue, cocksfoot, phalaris, white and red clover, annual clovers, plantain and chicory cultivars

We also invest in step change technologies (endophytes, new breeding methods and biotechnology) to create economic value for farmers

Since 2017 we have partnered with the University of Western Australia in breeding new annual legumes such as subterranean clover for use in drier regions across Australia, New Zealand and a range of Mediterranean environments. This Annual Legume Breeding Australia (ALBA) programme is designed to ensure that we develop products for increasingly challenging climates.

Plant Breeding

Plant breeding and cultivar evaluation is carried out on most of the pasture species used in New Zealand. These programs are led by plant breeders within PGG Wrightson Seeds with a range of partners around the world. We work with >35 plant breeders working on pasture species, ensuring this is one of the largest forage breeding teams in the world. The majority of these programmes are field based with supporting science and technology from AgResearch, other scientific institutions and Universities providing access to new technologies and thinking.


We work closely with AgResearch and Grasslanz Technology in evaluating fungal endophytes and incorporating those beneficial endophytes into our ryegrass and tall fescue breeding programmes. Currently these endophytes are AR1, Endo5, AR37 in ryegrass MaxP in tall fescue and MaxR in meadow fescue.

Novel Technologies

Grasslands Innovation has been active in developing and incorporating  novel technologies and traits into breeding programs where appropriate. Current areas of focus are:

  • Incorporating endophyte into forage species for improved pasture and animal health and performance
  • Reducing environmental impacts
  • Increasing grazing tolerance and persistence.
  • Improving the rate of genetic gain for productivity and environmental traits in ryegrass and white clover, through the use of genomic selection (Pasture Accelerator)
  • Incorporating digital plant phenotyping technology, e.g. drone imagery, LIDAR, into cultivar evaluation systems
  • Developing non-bloating cultivars


To view GIL products that have been commercialised see and


General Manager: Dr Derek Woodfield


Phone: +64 27 2126051


Chief Scientist: Dr Alan Stewart


Phone: +64 27 2220083


Development Manager: Bruce Belgrave


Phone: + 64 29 351 8022


Research Manager: Dr Marty Faville


Phone: +64 6 351 8147   


Intellectual Property Manager: Alick Elliott


Phone: +64 27 596 3953