The nutritive value (NV) of perennial ryegrass is an important driver of productivity for grazing stock; therefore, improving NV parameters would be beneficial to meat and dairy producers. NV is not actively targeted by most breeding programs due to NV measurement being prohibitively slow and expensive. Nondestructive spectroscopy has the potential to reduce the time and cost required to screen for NV parameters to make targeted breeding of NV practical. The application of a field spectrometer was trialed to gather canopy spectra of individual ryegrass plants to develop predictive models for eight NV parameters for breeding programs. The targeted NV parameters included acid detergent fibre, ash, crude protein, dry matter, in vivo dry matter digestibility, in vivo organic matter digestibility, neutral detergent fibre, and water-soluble carbohydrates. The models were developed with partial least square regression. Model predicted ranking of plants had R2
between (0.87 and 0.39) and lab rankings of highest preforming plants. The highest ranked plants, which are generally the selection target for breeding programs, were accurately identified with the canopy-based model at a speed, cost and accuracy that is promising for NV breeding programs.
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