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Abstract Detail


Entz, Martin [1], Kirk, Anne [1], Vaisman, Iris [1], Fox, Stephen [2], Fetch, Jennifer M. [3], Hobson, David [4], Jensen, Helen [5], Rabinowicz, Jane [5].

Farmer participation in plant breeding for Canadian organic crop production.

Organic farming systems present unique challenges that include limitations in available soil nutrients and interference from weeds. Previous work by our research group demonstrated that directed selection under organic production produces wheat varieties better suited than conventionally selected varieties to organic production. A further step in developing crop varieties adapted to organic production is to directly involve farmers in the selection process through participatory plant breeding (PPB). PPB is particularly effective in stressful or unique growing environments that are underserved by the traditional plant breeding sector. Crop variety development typically takes place under conventional production and organic farmers can likely derive benefits from PPB. We report on a pilot project where 11 organic farmers in Manitoba, Canada were provided with F3 populations of spring wheat. A plant breeder distributed seeds of 3 populations (5000 seeds per population) to the participating farmers, who planted them under their normal cultivation conditions. Farmers identified selection priorities and made selections each year based on their evaluation of the population. After three years of on-farm selection, the performance of wheat populations selected by farmers was compared with registered cultivars in a replicated experiment under organic growing conditions on a research farm. Results from the initial year of testing showed that as a group, the farmer selected populations yielded 107% of conventionally selected cultivars, displayed greater early vigour, were taller and reduced weed biomass compared to the conventional cultivars. By selecting directly in the target environment, farmers are selecting for wheat that is able to thrive under organic production systems.

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1 - University of Manitoba, 222 Agriculture Building, Plant Science, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 2N2, Canada
2 - DL Seeds, PO Box 2499, Morden, MB, R6M 1C2, Canada
3 - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2701 Grand Valley Road, Brandon, MB, R7A 5Y3, Canada
4 - Organic Alberta, Unit #1, 10329-61 Avenue, Edmonton, AB, T6H 1K9, Canada
5 - USC Canada, 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa, ON, K1P 5B1, Canada

organic plant breeding
participatory plant breeding

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 37
Location: Salon 2/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Time: 10:30 AM
Number: 37009
Abstract ID:1222
Candidate for Awards:None

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