European cereal production experiences an ongoing intensification and specialisation on wheat and barley at the expense of minor cereals including einkorn, emmer, oat, rye and spelt. This specialisation leads to continuous loss in agricultural biodiversity and marginalisation of traditional land management systems.
A diversification of cropping systems by minor cereals offer benefits with respect to agronomic management, grain processing, nutritional quality, health promotion and numerous ecosystem services. Enhanced plant breeding efforts are of strategic importance to improve the competitiveness of minor cereals in European agriculture.
Rye is a traditional food grain and a valuable source of energy and protein for livestock. Like other minor cereals, it is mainly grown in marginal environments where climate and soil are unfavourable for wheat production. Rye is the only cross-pollinated small-grain cereal, which results in a unique complexity concerning the genetic improvement of rye and underlines the need for rye-specific research concepts.
The overall goal of RYE-SUS is to develop, test and model gibberellin-sensitive semi-dwarf rye genotypes with optimised harvest index, improved lodging resistance, high yield potential and drought tolerance as well as minimised risk of ergot infestation for a sustainable intensification also in marginal production environments.
We used 3 semi-dwarf genotypes as well as their near-isogenic tall counterparts as seed parents and the so called Pampa CMS as a natural, reliable, environmentally friendly and inexpensive hybridisation system to develop - for the first time ever - 48 GA-sensitive semi-dwarf rye prototypes and their 48 near-isogenic tall counterparts. We have conducted a partial life cycle assessment from cradle to farm gate considering all material and energy flows throughout rye and wheat production processes.
Based on almost 40.000 historical observations from more than 100 locations throughout Germany during 1983-2019 we could demonstrate, that the carbon footprint (CFP), i.e. the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit harvest product of rye, is generally smaller than that of wheat. Furthermore, hybrids had higher yields and GHG emissions per unit land but lower CFP as compared to population varieties in rye.
The GA-sensitive semi-dwarf rye, thus, provide a new technology to further reduce nitrogen losses and greenhouse gas emissions and a mitigation option for EU agriculture to meet the Paris Climate Agreement. RYE-SUS supports the European common agricultural policy to advance its agriculture and food systems by diversifying and increasing the sustainable production of cereal grains for food and feed.
*At the time of the proposal. Please consider this data as an accurate estimate; it may vary during the project’s lifespan.
Total costs include in kind contribution by grant holders and can therefore be higher than the total requested funding.