Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 065 November-December 2006 - North
STATISTICS WEIGH THE ODDS FOR CROP GAIN BY ALEC NICOL n Plant breeding has often been an uncertain science, but in recent times its accuracy and efficiency are steadily being lifted by the work of biometricians – statisticians who work hand-in-hand with researchers. Biometricians offer breeders, and also growers, a mathematical assessment of the likelihood of new varieties performing to expectations. This is becoming crucial in the drive to produce better crop varieties faster, and also as plant breeding programs become more diverse. Professor Brian Cullis, research leader, biometrics with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, says that improved methods of statistical analysis have given breeders more confidence in their selections and recommendations of breeding lines. This hopefully will lead to growers in turn having more confidence to adopt new varieties. In a GRDC-funded project, ‘National Statistics for Crop Improvement’, these new techniques will also be used to collate data from the National Variety Trial (NVT) system; a system which Professor Cullis believes will develop as “the best crop evaluation system in the world”. He says the major hurdle to accurate selection is the complex interaction between environment, climate and genotype, and the fact that many key traits assessed by breeders have lower heritabilities. “Breeders must make decisions on limited information, and selection and breeding is now moving more towards targeting specific environments or markets,” he says. “Improved methods of combining results from trials across a range of environments (years or locations) reduces the uncertainty in the prediction of the true genetic value of a variety. It gives breeders more confidence in the selections and growers more confidence that new varieties will perform to expectations.” Professor Cullis also says that confidence is helped if information is presented in a uniform manner, and one of the roles of biometricians involved in the national statistics project is to ensure information is presented uniformly across the country. “Growers will be presented with a prediction of the true genetic value for yield, accompanied by an estimate of the uncertainty of that prediction,” he explains. “This encourages people to adopt new varieties sooner, rather than wait to see how they perform on a neighbour’s property.” Statistical methods also form the underlying basis for assessing the relationships between the performance of a crop in terms of yield, quality, disease resistance and stresses, and the genes that influence that performance. A second component of the national statistics project aims to develop efficient and effective techniques for design and analysis of research involving the use of molecular and genetic information in determining performance. “The implementation of these methods in our computer software will ensure that the information generated by studies involving the use of molecular markers, association-mapping studies and pedigree-based approaches is used to its full capacity,” Professor Cullis says. “This component of the national statistics project also involves training in the ideas and the software for geneticists and breeders working in the marker area, with the eventual flow on to farmers through marker-assisted selection.” GRDC Research Code DAN00073, DAN00074 More information: Professor Brian Cullis, 02 6938 1999, firstname.lastname@example.org Plant breeding GROUND COVER NOVEMBER -- DECEMBER 2006 26 GRAIN DRYER For further information and prompt attention, contact Andre Farley at: SILO SEALING & WATERPROOFING Ph: (03) 5475 1333 • Mob: 0408 506 812 • email@example.com Temperature/humidity controller • Two settings on machine: - one for drying cycle - one for aeration cycle • Plugs straight into any system • No installation costs • Lowest price on market • $1540 inc. 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Ask about proven cost-effective grain drying gear for your existing silos. • Single phase electric and petrol models • Can reduce moisture from 17% to 12% in just days under the right conditions • Suitable for cereals, legumes, canola, sorghum • Even air distribution through silo • $3190 inc. GST for two silo kit inc. hoses, clamps etc. • $220 inc. GST for additional silo kits • 100 litre/sec aeration fan to suit our silo kits: $715 inc. GST • Bigger volume fans (3 ph. & petrol) also available AND AERATOR TO FIT EXISTING SILOS: ELEVATED, FLAT BOTTOM AND SHEDS JOURNEY TO INDIA BRINGS HOME CONSUMER DEMANDS n Australian chickpeas are highly regarded for their quality in India. However, continuous market-driven research and development is needed to ensure this remains the case. Ted Knights, chickpea breeder with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), recently travelled to India – Australia’s major chickpea market – to better understand its market needs. Mr Knights says the response to Australian pulses was generally favourable. Desi chickpeas, such as JimbourA, were well regarded for the direct consumption market, and Amethyst for milling. “Feedback on new breeding lines was also positive,” he says. “Varieties scheduled for release in 2007 will preserve Australia’s reputation in the Indian subcontinent.” Mr Knights says the chance to meet leading traders and brokers was particularly valuable, and would help breeders to fine-tune quality parameters and breed pulses more attuned to Indian consumer requirements. “For example, breeding ingenuity will be used to meet end-user requirements for desi chickpeas,” he says. “Consumers want a wrinkled-chickpea dhal to differentiate it from field pea dhal, which is close to hemispherical in shape. “However, this is somewhat of a Catch-22 situation – a high dhal yield is negatively correlated to wrinkled-chickpea dhal, a fact appreciated by millers. “The compromise is to aim for a seed shape of sufficient angularity to ensure adequately wrinkled chickpeas, but not too angular so as to significantly lower dhal yield and quality.” Mr Knights says kabuli seed shape was raised as important for direct consumption markets, with the Canadian variety B90 – almost spherical in shape – not popular with Indian marketers: “They prefer seeds with the characteristic kabuli ‘wrinkles’, and there is a clear message here for future Australian releases if premiums of up to $100 a tonne for medium- sized varieties are to be realised,” he says. Six to seven-millimetre Myanmar kabulis, which are almost exclusively ground into besan (a pale yellow flour), also commanded a US$75 to $100 a tonne premium over the Australian variety JimbourA. However, in 'IT GIVES BREEDERS MORE CONFIDENCE IN THE SELECTIONS AND GROWERS MORE CONFIDENCE THAT NEW VARIETIES WILL PERFORM TO EXPECTATIONS' contrast to India, the B90 type was reportedly well accepted in Pakistan, he says. The reportedly bland taste of Australian desi chickpeas was also noted, Mr Knights says. “Although there are regional differences in India, a slightly sweet taste is generally preferred.” GRDC Research Code DAN00094 More information: Ted Knights, 02 6763 1179 The new variety, Genesis 90, has been developed to provide Australian growers with a premium market kabuli chickpea.
Ground Cover 064 September-October 2006 - North
Ground Cover 066 January-February 2007 - North