Rights: University of Waikato. All rights reserved. Published 9 June 2014 Download

Grasslanz Technology develops innovative solutions to improve pasture on New Zealand farms. Traditionally, the company has focused on varieties of ryegrass, white clover and fescue that are well suited in New Zealand conditions – but recently, Grasslanz has also been actively working with endophytes that help pasture plants to survive against pests and diseases. In this video clip, Sam Livesey (Grasslanz) and Dr John Caradus (CEO, Grasslanz) highlight a recent success for the company – a ryegrass containing an endophyte (Avanex) that repels both insects and birds. Avanex has been developed with airports in mind, and its use in land surrounding airport runways decreases bird numbers and limits the risk of bird strike.

Jargon alert
An endophyte is a bacterium or fungus that lives within a plant. Endophytes often provide benefits to the host plant, such as resistance to pathogens.


Sam Livesey
New Zealand is an agricultural country. It’s based on pasture, and the research and development that we tend to fund is based around improving pasture genetics and therefore improving the returns to New Zealand farmers.

Dr John Caradus
This has, in the first instance, been around developing cultivars or varieties that are better suited to New Zealand pastoral conditions, and we’re talking here about species such as ryegrass, white clover, fescue. We’ve also, in more recent times, developed technologies that in fact the farmer can’t see, and these actually live inside the plant and are called endophytes, and these endophytes, in fact, help the plant to survive against pests and diseases.

Sam Livesey
One of our exciting developments of recent times has been Avanex branded perennial ryegrass and tall fescue. Its application is for airport use and also high-performing sports grounds. What it does is basically is able to repel both insects and birds and therefore reduce bird strike. It’s taking an idea or a concept, being endophyte for animals that are friendly for animals and insects, turning that on its head, saying, “Well, how about having something that nothing likes and then finding an application for it?” And that’s quite neat, and I think that goes to show the innovation and the ideas that Grasslanz Technologies creates.

Dr John Caradus
We talked to end-user farmers, and we also talked to commercial companies, and it’s through those conversations we understand what are challenging farmers, particularly in terms of growing pasture that is persistent and high yielding.

Sam Livesey
Our research shows that we were having increased liveweight gains, increased milk production, and so therefore it means more money in the back pocket of New Zealand farmers.

Dr John Caradus
We do deliver products and technologies that make a difference in, not just the commercial world but to the end-user, the New Zealand farmer.

Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2013