Comparing the performance of cereal varieties in organic and non-organic cropping systems in different European countries
Publication: Research - peer-review › Journal article – Annual report year: 2008
Top ranking varieties are tested in multiple environments before and after registration in order to assess their value for cultivation and use (VCU testing). Recently, interest has increased in obtaining varieties specifically adapted to organic farming conditions. This raised the question if an independent system of trials may be required for this purpose. To help answering this question, through the exchange network of European cereal researchers SUSVAR (www.cost860.dk), a number of data sets of agronomic traits from barley, wheat and winter triticale, from trials performed in Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, France, Switzerland, UK and Germany, were made available and analysed using an approach based on mixed models involving parameters describing genetic correlation between the two types of experiments, i.e., organic and non-organic (high or low input). Estimated variance components and correlations were used to evaluate response to selection and index selection. The response to index selection was analysed as a function of the fraction of available trials assigned to the organic system. The genetic correlations were interpreted in terms of ranking agreement. We found high genetic correlations between both systems for most traits in all countries. Despite high genetic correlations, the chances of very good agreement in observed rankings were moderate. Combining information from both organic and non-organic systems is shown to be beneficial. Further, ignoring information from non-organic trials when making decisions regarding performance under organic conditions is a sub-optimal strategy.
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