Technology Options for Plant Breeding and Innovative Agriculture

  • Project team: Meyer, Rolf (Project leader)
  • Funding: STOA
  • Start date: 2012
  • End date:

    2013

  • Project partners: Dr. Tomas Ratinger (Technology Centre ASCR, Prague, Czech Republic), Prof. Dr. Armin Werner (Institut für Landnutzungssysteme, Leibnitz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung, Müncheberg)
  • Research group:

    Sustainable Bioeconomy

Project description

The Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament has set up a new project titled “Technology options for feeding 10 billion people”. The project will investigate options for the improvement of global food supply. ITAS has taken over two sub-studies. One of them is named “Technology Options for Plant Breeding and Innovative Agriculture”.

This study will analyze how farming management concepts, practices, and technologies, including plant breeding technologies, could enable sustainable intensification of crop production with the aim to increase food production and to support food security. The study addresses agriculture in developing countries and in industrialized countries (Europe), small-scale and large-scale farming, as well as extensive and intensive agricultural production systems, and intends to cover a wide range of practices (low to high tech). With a view to the vast majority of farmers in developing countries that are small-scale farmers producing on less than two hectares, the study will built on a former STOA project carried out by ETAG on “Agricultural Technologies for Developing Countries” that investigated the contribution of selected important agricultural production systems and technologies with a focus on small-scale farmers in developing countries. Three main topics are covered in the study:

  • Reducing the yield gap – sustainable intensification and improvement of crop management
  • Increasing the yield potential – plant breeding
  • Reducing crop losses

Many regions show large yield gaps, which are the gaps between the actual production per hectare and the potential yields. Therefore, it makes sense to explore the potential for increasing production on already cultivated land and by already existing cultivars, independent of progress in plant breeding. Three important objectives of improved crop production under changing environmental conditions (e.g. climate change) are: (1) to increase production by better exploring genetic yield potentials, (2) to improve input use by higher production efficiency, and (3) to enhance the site specific yield potential by improved land productivity. Starting with an analysis of the major constraints on food crop production (such as abiotic stress, soil fertility, crop nutrition, pests, diseases and weed competition, energy and labor demand in production, environmental impacts), appropriate technologies will be scanned and relevant crop production system approaches for sustainable intensification will be analyzed.

In the past, plant breeding has made a major contribution (about half of the higher yields) to higher food supply and to the fact that increasing crop production has mostly taken place on already cultivated land. Also in the future, success in plant breeding is needed as an important basis for higher yields and increased production. At the same time, plant breeding will have to contribute to climate change adaptation, higher production efficiency and more environmental-friendly agricultural production systems. Based on breeding in production systems, all relevant existing and upcoming plant breeding technologies – from conventional techniques to breeding with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – will be assessed.

Post-harvest losses of staple food crops in industrialized countries are generally considered to be low and not significant under normal circumstances. In developing countries, post-harvest handling and storage are stages with relatively high food losses in the food supply chain of staple foods. Therefore, this last topic will concentrate on developing countries and staple foods (due to their overall importance for food supply). The losses in the food supply chain will be analyzed through to the farm gate: This includes harvesting, post-harvest handling and storage, transport and distribution by farmers, taking into account that technology options for the reduction of crop losses are in many cases dependent on improvements in education, management, infrastructure, etc.

 

Publications


2019
Book Chapters
Meyer, R.
Modern biotechnology and sustainable intensification: chances and limitations.
2019. Agricultural Resilience – Perspectives from Ecology and Economics. Ed.: S.M. Gardner, 159–179, Cambridge University Press (CUP). doi:10.1017/9781107705555.009
2014
Journal Articles
Albrecht, S.; Stirn, S.; Meyer, R.
Global versus regional food.
2014. Technikfolgenabschätzung, Theorie und Praxis, 23 (3), 41–51 Full textFull text of the publication as PDF document
Meyer, R.
Diversity of European farming systems and pathways to sustainable intensification.
2014. Technikfolgenabschätzung, Theorie und Praxis, 23 (3), 11–21 
Meyer, R.
Innovative intensification.
2014. Pan European Networks: Science and Technology, (10), 280–283 
Meyer, R.; Priefer, C.
Nachhaltige Intensivierung. Strategien so vielfältig wie die Betriebe.
2014. Ökologie & Landbau, 42 (169), 30–33 
Presentations
Meyer, R.
Welternährung - Probleme und Lösungsansätze.
2014. Vortrag im Rahmen des Seminars ’Zu Tisch! Essen in Zeiten der Nachhaltigkeit’, Karlsruhe, 25. Mai 2014 
Meyer, R.
Welternährung - Problem und Lösungsansätze.
2014. Vortrag im Rahmen des Seminars ’Zu Tisch! Essen in Zeiten der Nachhaltigkeit’, Karlsruhe, 7. Januar 2014 
Priefer, C.
Lebensmittelabfälle und ihre Vermeidung. Ergebnisse aus dem STOA-Projekt “Technology options for feeding 10 billion people”.
2014. Zu Tisch! Essen in Zeiten der Nachhaltigkeit (2014), Karlsruhe, Germany, June 10, 2014 
2013
Journal Articles
Reports/Preprints
Meyer, R.; Ratinger, T.; Voss-Fels, K. P.
Technology options for feeding 10 billion people. Plant breeding and innovative agriculture. Study.
2013. Bruxelles : European Union, 2013 IP/A/STOA/FWC/2008-096/Lot7/C1/SC1-SC3 (October 2013) 
Meyer, R.; Voss-Fels, K. P.; Ratinger, T.
Technology options for feeding 10 billion people. Plant breeding and innovative agriculture. Annexes.
2013. Bruxelles : European Union, 2013 IP/A/STOA/FWC/2008-096/Lot7/C1/SC1-SC3 (October 2013) 
Other
Meyer, R.
Technology options for feeding 10 billion people. Plant breeding and innovative agriculture.
2013. Science and Technology Options Assessment Options Brief No 2013-06 (October 2013) 

Contact

PD Dr. Rolf Meyer
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe
Germany

Tel.: +49 721 608-24868
E-mail