A newly developed hybrid grass reduces flooding from agricultural runoff while providing nutritious forage for livestock.
The hybrid species, named Festulolium, was bred by researchers at Rothamsted Research, the James Hutton Institute, Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, Lancaster University, and the University of Nottingham. They crossed a hybrid species of perennial ryegrass and a different, but related species of meadow fescue.
Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) grows quickly and provides erosion control and forage for livestock. It grows well in many climates.
Meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis) also feeds livestock. It grows an extensive root system and captures water efficiently.
Once hybridized, the scientists found that the new species of grass reduced agricultural runoff up to 51 percent better than the parent species. Agricultural runoff can carry pesticides and fertilizers into local waterways, where it can interfere with the life cycles of wildlife and disrupt local fisheries.
The hybrid grass still provides excellent forage and can withstand droughts as well as abnormally wet seasons. Used as a groundcover in urban parks and sports fields, it can reduce flooding in cities.