New research at The University of Queensland (UQ) debunks the myth that modern wheat varieties are heavily reliant on pesticides and fertilizers.

 According to Dr. Kai Voss-Fels of UQ's Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), modern wheat varieties have out-performed older varieties in adjacent field trials under both optimum and harsh growing conditions. 

 

In a large-scale study spanning five decades of wheat breeding, the researchers compared 200 wheat varieties, essential to agriculture in Western Europe over the past 50 years, under contrasting input levels of fertilizers and pesticides. Dr. Voss-Fels and Dr. Ben Hayes developed a method to match the performance differences with the different wheat varieties' genetic make-up.

 

The study reveals that breeding for high performance not only enhances cultivar performance under optimal production conditions but also in production systems with reduced agrochemical inputs. New cultivars with accumulated genetic variants confer favorable effects on key yield parameters, disease resistance, nutrient use efficiency, photosynthetic efficiency, and grain quality. 

 

For more details, read the article in UQ News.