Plant Breeding for Organic Agriculture Extension Course
CSANR Project 063
There is a growing interest in breeding crop plants specifically for the challenges of organic agriculture as researchers begin to realize just how different the environmental factors can be between organic and conventional systems. This is based on the differences in how these factors are used in the two different systems; 1) the amount and type of inputs, 2) the cropping techniques employed, and 3) the types of crop germplasm that are important to the respective markets. This class presents an overview of the philosophical and practical aspects of breeding crops for the environmental challenges of organic cropping systems with their lowered inputs, different cultural methods, and different market demands.
This class will allow students to gain skills for performing classical plant breeding methods, under organic cropping systems in the field, for a wide range of crop plants in temperate climates. Through discovering the traits and challenges important in organic systems it is possible to envision breeding crops that will excel under organic systems. Our discussions will consider sources of diverse crop genetic materials, screening methodology, breeding techniques, population dynamics, maintaining genetic diversity, disease resistance, crop genetic purity and releasing varieties. Examples of Participatory Plant Breeding projects performed by regional farmers under field conditions will be reviewed. Students will be expected to develop a breeding program model for a regionally adapted crop that will include all of the elements of plant breeding theory for organic systems that are covered in the class.