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Promotion of Organic Plant Breeding [AFFILIATED]

  • Published on August 15, 2018
The project “Promotion of Organic Plant Breeding” supports ongoing organic plant breeding projects. Its aim is to enhance the availability of more high-quality seeds that are adapted to organic and low-input farming systems and local conditions, and that contribute to a more sustainable food production.
The availability of high-quality seeds of a wide range of species and cultivars that are adapted to organic and low input farming systems and local growing conditions are key for sustainable and diverse food production. However, organic farmers still have to rely on organic seed derived from cultivars that have been bred for high input conditions lacking resistance to seed or soil-borne diseases, nutrient use efficiency or weed tolerance. The project aims to accelerate the organic plant breeding and seed sector by: (i) developing novel breeding concepts (participatory breeding, breeding for diversity); (ii) delivering new breeding tools and screening systems; (iii) elucidating the biological basis of crop resilience and plant-soil microbe interactions; (iv) developing resistant breeding material; (v) testing different seed treatments to improve seedling vigour and (vi) strengthening small breeding initiatives and stimulating collaboration among actors to close the most urgent breeding gaps. Following topics are addressed: • Screening tests for pea against diseases called soil fatigue; • Selection for weed suppression in soybeans; • Optimisation of biodynamic apple breeding; • Disease tolerance based on plant microbiome interaction of pea; • Optimization of broccoli population breeding; • Breeding research on anthracnose tolerance of white lupin; • Seed treatment against Colletotrichum in lupin; • Development and implementation of new seed technologies. In organic farming, the focus is on self-regulating systems and closed cycles where quickly soluble synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are not used. Organic farming makes a significant contribution to sustainable and environmentally friendly food production. The project intends to raise awareness on activities for organic breeding and its impact on sustainable food systems. The value chain is being communicated by sharing knowledge and spreading information about the need for action from the perspective of producers, market-oriented breeding activities are initiated and supported. At the same time, innovative and practical screening tools are developed, in particular for resistance and quality breeding and latest findings in epigenetics and microbiome research for plant breeding is explored and implemented. Existing synergies are being exploited and new collaborations are being formed among private and public breeders and breeding researchers as well as other key players in the value chain. Email the Research Project lead; Dr. Monika Messmer, FiBL Switzerland with any questions and follow our social media updates on @FiBLBreeding
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