Water is recognized as the most limiting factor in Mediterranean regions, though N shortages seem as important as water scarcity. Breeding under these circumstances has been consistently funded by the EU-INCO programme. As crop productivity for a particular region is the consequence of the breeding x management x weather interaction, understanding the bases for improved management has been becoming increasingly important. The general objective of this proposal is to identify and transfer improvements in management of wheat and barley through increasing the capture and/or the use efficiency of water and N.
The project is based on the premise that understanding the physiological bases of the responses to water x N shortages would allow the design of more consistent management practices to overcome the deficiencies explored, either by directly using the concepts in such strategic design or by being able to build up (or adapt an existing) robust simulation models based on this knowledge and then allowing the testing of different alternatives exploring a large degree of G x E interactions. We aim to improve the understanding on the determinants of the crop ability to capture more water and/or to use water more efficiently in a range of N availability conditions; as well as to capture more N and/or to use N more efficiently in a range of water availability conditions.
In this case, both ranges will be characterized and described within the context of the project, (i) identifying plant/crop characteristics that may confer superior ability, (ii) building up a mechanistic simulation model used in the design of management strategies, (iii) testing agronomic hypothetical management strategies in these environments, and (iv) evaluating the socio-economic impact of the adoption of the improved strategies, and actually transferring the outcomes to the producers (with Farmers Associations in our partnership).