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FiBL project

Title Improving nutrient efficiency in major European food, feed and biofuel crops to reduce the negative environmental impact of crop production: Genotype x Management Interaction
Official Acronym NUE-CROPS
Official project number 222645
FiBL project number 10033
Abstract

Based on current predictions concerning increases in (a) the world population and (b) the demand for “renewable sources of energy” it will be essential to maintain or improve yields of the main staple food, feed and potential biofuel crops. However, it is widely accepted that such improvements must be achieved with reduced environmental impacts, especially with respect to nutrient pollution, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. In this context the “nutrient use efficiency” is defined as the ability to maintain or increase yields of (a) total biomass (forage/energy crops) or (b) desired yield components (e.g. grain, tubers, oil) with reduced fertiliser inputs (especially N and P). Most previous R&D to reduce fertiliser inputs has focused on improving agronomic methods, while research to develop more nutrient efficient crop varieties has been limited. In a first step, the main aim of the project is to develop knowledge, models and tools required to breed/select NUTRIENT USE EFFICIENT (NUE) crops. In a second step, NUE-crops and agronomic innovations will be combined to significantly reduce fertiliser use and associated negative environmental impacts of crop production, while maintaining or improving crop yield and quality.

Project website

research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/nuecrops/page.php?page=1 _blank

Detailed Description

Winter wheat cultivars for organic farming have to be adapted to highly variable environments. Yield and yield stability, the nutritional value and the bread making quality are here of major importance. Particularly, seed quality, tillering capacity, regeneration ability after harrowing, weed suppression ability, resistance or tolerance against diseases and improved nutrient use efficiency (NUE) under limited nutrient conditions need to be improved by specific breeding efforts.

At FiBL, 10 winter wheat cultivars were grown in 2009 and 2010 in two organic systems of the DOK long-term experiment in CH-Therwil to observe genotype x management interactions. We assessed grain yield, yield components and parameters related to baking quality and NUE. The objectives of the study were (i) to compare the yield, nutrients use efficiency and baking quality of organically and conventionally bred varieties and old varieties under organic and conventional conditions (systems), (ii) to test the significance of Genotype x Management interactions, and (iii) to assess the correlation of root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF-RC) and NUE.
Conservation tillage (no-till and reduced tillage) brings many benefits with respect to soil fertility and energy use, but it also has drawbacks regarding the need for synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. To promote conservation tillage in organic farming systems, crop rotation, fertilization and weed control have to be optimized. In addition, crop varieties are needed with improved nutrient use efficiency (NUE) and high weed competitiveness or tolerance. As soil temperature rises slowly in reduced tillage systems in early spring, nitrogen mineralisation is often delayed resulting in temporary shortage of nitrogen (N) supply. Symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play an important role for nutrient acquisition of many crop plants, especially for insoluble elements like phosphorus (P) and zinc (Zn). Crop management that favors native AMF populations or inoculation of selected AMF strains might thus increase crop nutrient uptake. We studied at FiBL the effect of different agronomic practices on the NUE and plant microbe interaction of six maize (Zea mays L.) hybrids as well as the effect of AMF inoculations on maize yield.

The objectives of the study were (i) to quantify the NUE of maize genotypes under different tillage regimes and fertilization levels, (ii) to compare the effect of slow releasing organic versus easily soluble mineral fertilizer on dry matter yield and weed coverage, (iii) to test the significance of Genotype x Management Interaction, and (vi) to assess the correlation of root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF-RC) and NUE.

Project status completed
Start of project 01.05.2009
End of project 30.04.2014
Financing/ Donor

 

 

(Research) Programme
  • European Union: 7th Research Framework Programme
Project partners
  • University of Newcastle (project coordination), UK
  • Albert-Georg University of Göttingen, Germany
  • Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Netherlands
  • KWS UK
  • James Hutton Institute (formerly the Scottish Crop Research Institute) , UK
  • KWS Germany
  • University of Düsseldorf, Germany
  • AgroBio Institute, Bulgaria
  • University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, China
  • Washington State University, USA
FiBL project leader/ contact
FiBL project staff
  • Berner Alfred
  • Thonar Cécile (Department of Soil Sciences)
Role of FiBL

Work package manager of WP 5.3

Further Information
Research area
Themes
Date modified 12.06.2019
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