Alternative approaches and lessons from ORC research

Plant breeding, while being a key area of agricultural activities, can only make limited contributions to solving complex agricultural problems.

When focussing on the functions that plant breeding aims to deliver it becomes evident that many options of agricultural management might have higher potential than plant breeding and the mere selection of specific plant genotypes. Taking the goal of low aphid infestation in cereals as an example, I will show that there are plenty of well researched management options besides plant breeding that can tackle this problem in a successful way.

As a further example of alternatives to plant breeding, I show how the approach of engineering communities, i.e. the targeted usage and combination of plant traits in a dynamic and diverse plant community can deliver multiple services in an agro-ecosystem. Finally, I highlight plant breeding approaches using conventional crossing methods that are able address the increasingly important problem of coping with changing and fluctuating environments. Here as in other areas, diversification proves to be a key to resilient agricultural production.


Theme: crop diversity
Published: 22nd January 2013