Environmental characterisation to guide breeding decisions in a changing climate

Environmental characterisation to guide breeding decisions in a changing climate

Agriculture faces and will continue to face multiple challenges. Most notably, the need to meet food demand for a rapidly growing and urbanising population under increasingly variable and warmer climates. Substantial evidence now exists suggesting that agricultural yields will have to increase significantly in order to meet food needs during the 21st century. One such way of increasing yields is to develop high yielding cultivars through crop improvement. Additionally, the development of novel, climate-adapted varieties that ably tolerate stresses will be key in order to respond to regional climatic changes.  

The development of high yielding and climate-adapted crop varieties, however, requires an understanding of how crops respond to spatio-temporal variations in soil, climate and management, as well as an assessment of the main factors limiting yields. This is because genotype-by-environment interactions sometimes prevent plant breeding progress for broad adaptation and/or for adaptation to specific conditions within a region. Therefore, understanding yield constraints and their spatio-temporal variations will ultimately lead to improved priority setting and more rapid progress in breeding programs.  

This Working Paper summarises the results of a CCAFS project named Target Population of Environments (TPE). The project aimed at providing actionable information to crop breeders and, therefore, inform breeding decisions.
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