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Danish 'super plants' for higher yields and greener environment

Strict environmental requirements and creative plant growers have stimulated the development of an innovative plant breeding sector in Denmark. But we can do even better. That is why the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries has published a new report with recommendations for how Denmark can develop tomorrow’s high-yielding crops while keeping fungal diseases and pests at bay.

“Plant breeding is truly an area of Danish agriculture that we should continue to develop. It is already a success story and there is plenty of potential to make it even more successful,” says Mette Gjerskov, Denmark’s Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. “If we boost plant breeding, we can get more crops from our fields while cutting the amount of pesticides used.”

Over the years, Denmark has seen a pronounced improvement in crop yields. To take an example, Danish farmers cultivate one per cent more winter wheat from their fields each year simply because the plants have become better.

Another Danish plant breeding success has occurred in barley: Danish researchers and plant breeders have had a prominent role in making this cereal resistant to the fungal disease powdery mildew.

If more robust plants are developed, farmers will be able to reduce their use of pesticides. And if all 14 recommendations in the report are followed, Danish farmers can halve their use of pesticides aimed at combatting disease over the next 20 years.

“This shows that it is possible for farmers to look after nature while increasing productivity – which is the main idea behind the change to a green economy that the government wants for Denmark,” adds Mette Gjerskov.
“Farming will be better and cheaper while we also generate an expertise that we can export.”

The report is drawn up by a team of experts and industry representatives chaired by professor Sven Bode Andersen.

by S. C.
13 february 2013, World News > Europe

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