Drought Stress Tolerance

Drought Stress Tolerance – Progress achieved by sophisticated selection methods

In the face of the proceeding climate change dry periods will become more frequent and the call for varieties with enhanced tolerance to drought is getting louder. The plants react differently to drought stress. In order to recognize and evaluate how they react, we use, in addition to our breeding experience, the latest measuring technique. This will increase the effectiveness when recording the traits. The following article gives an overview over the measuring methods we use.

Layout of the drought stress trial

Drought stress trial layout Wohlde, 2010

The basis for recording traits in the best possible way is a trial that is perfectly planned and laid out. An area of approximately 5 ha was used for the measuring, on which several drought stress trials with approximately 3000 rye plots were located. The complete trial is split into a watered and an unwatered variant with both variants adjoining in a replicate to be able to compare both variants adequately. For the irrigation, drip hoses of 12 -15 m length per plot have been installed to secure an even irrigation of the target plot. We control the exact water supply via a central distribution station.

Irrigation system in Wohlde, 2010

State-of-the-art recording of plant traits


Measuring technique at the boom, Wohlde, 2010

At the end of the measuring period we face the challenge to integrate the huge amount of data collected and then to use them for the selection process. The first research year revealed which trait determination is useful respectively possible. Within the large-scale research project of the Julius-Kühn-Institute and the University of Kiel together with KWS Getreide, lasting over several years, we are now putting every effort into bringing the measuring methods through to the stage of application. The improvement will be demonstrated in first hybrid rye varieties with distinct drought tolerance, which we expect to introduce into the market in 2018.

In our trials as many as possible different plant traits are recorded. It is particularly important that all traits are measured and recorded continually throughout several weeks.To characterise plant traits with a high throughput of 750 plots per hour, we have equipped a sprayer boom with GPS, a spectrometer and an infrared thermometer. This enables us, independent of the weather conditions, to measure important features, for example from population density, leaf area, chlorophyll content, diseases through yield.In parallel, a weather station measures wind speed, humidity, temperature and irradiation and a soil probe the soil moisture. Both methods secure the information on the environmental conditions of the trial location.

Drought tolerance - a cultivation goal at KWS

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