National business manager, farmer, agronomist, industry advocate, mother and wife – Germinal NZ’s General Manager Sarah Gard wears multiple hats.
On any given day she can be found on the farm, overseeing the development of new varieties at Germinal NZ’s research site in Canterbury, liaising with sector organisations about sustainability challenges, working with other Plant Breeding and Research Association (PBRA) member companies, or meeting with farmers to discuss new pasture options.
“As farmers ourselves, we bring a unique perspective to the seed industry,” says Sarah. “We know first-hand the enduring challenge of pasture persistence, and the need to maximise metabolisable energy per hectare to improve animal performance.
“By working alongside farmers at ground level we understand what farmers need, and those needs are always at the forefront of our minds when developing new pasture varieties or traits."
“We are also acutely aware of the challenges currently facing New Zealand’s agricultural sector, and the increasingly important role of pasture in developing sustainable farming systems.”
Sarah and her husband Will manage two North Canterbury dairy farms. Sarah also sits on several PBRA committees and works with Waimakariri Landcare Trust – a farmer-led group which partners with farmers and industry to address environmental concerns. She holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from Lincoln University, with Honours in Plant Science.
Sarah leads Germinal NZ’s ryegrass breeding programme in Canterbury, which is supported by on-farm trials throughout the country – ensuring products perform within the reality of New Zealand’s unique conditions. Sarah is supported by Research Agronomist Kate Peddie.
Germinal, a leading agricultural seed company based in Ireland and the United Kingdom, has had a market presence in New Zealand since 2002. The company is a well-known and respected player in the world seed industry.
Germinal’s point of difference, says Sarah, is its exclusive research collaboration with the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Science (IBERS) in Wales. Germinal has exclusive worldwide production and marketing rights for the varieties bred in partnership with IBERS.
“IBERS is world-renowned for being a powerhouse in terms of its plant research capabilities. We are extremely fortunate to have exclusive access to this cutting-edge innovation, and apply it to New Zealand’s unique environment,” says Sarah.
“We are not just a supplier, but a researcher with vital knowledge of seed development. Backed by a wealth of international knowledge and expertise, our primary focus is developing new varieties for New Zealand, in New Zealand.”
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