WP 5: Farming System Assessment and Dissemination

The overall objectives of WP 5 are to assess the sustainability of breeding methods at farming system level, differentiated by level of input including organic and conventional management and to disseminate the project results to the scientific and lay public.

Task 5.1 Ecological assessment

The aim is to analyze and assess the ecological sustainability of improvements in plant breeding at the level of farming systems. The computer-aided modelling system REPRO will be used for the assessment. REPRO is a software for analyzing, evaluating and optimizing the environmental effects of agricultural enterprises. The model describes a given farm as a functioning system. Interactions between different sectors of the farm and the relationships to the environment are depicted as mass and energy fluxes. Data generated in WP3.3 will be used. Indicators to classify the input level of the observed system and their relationship to environmental and ecological aspects include: N- balance and N efficiency, P- balance, humus balance, energy efficiency, GHGE related to field area and yield, soil compaction, potential biodiversity, soil erosion, pathogen control, and landscape services. Some of the indicators will be developed further and tested in the first observed growing season:

  • Soil erosion: parameters about soil cover by crops, weed and biomass development and heterogeneity in the field are included in this indicator

  • To calculate the biodiversity indicator, genetic diversity inside the crop, diversity of weeds, insects and spiders, severity of infection, and diversity of diseases should be included, however appropriate methods still need to be developed.

  • Until now pathogen control is assessed mainly by the number of treatments and the quantity applied.

  • In addition, an indicator has to be developed that covers the diversity of plant development and plant standing crop in the field

Task 5.2 Socio-economic assessment and simulation

The aims of the task are to investigate and to analyze the socio-economic sustainability of improvements in plant breeding at the levels of specific crops, the rotation, and the farm. Special attention is given to the economic risk profile with regard to changing span of yields. The breeding methods evaluated require a different breeding organization and more interaction with farmers. The potential societal effects within the supply chain will be qualitatively assessed through expert interviews.

To investigate the aspects of system diversity effects on sustainability and risk profile a model using the software package @risk will be compiled, tested and validated on data derived from the case study farms and the field trial results (WP 3). Risk analysis is based on a full cost accounting approach. To describe the economic situation on different levels a full cost farm budget model has to be developed. Using the farm case studies investigated in WP 3.3 the key economic parameters (natural yield and quality, product prices, direct cost, labour cost, machinery costs and other costs as well as factors costs for family labour, own capital and land) will be assessed.

Task 5.3 Dissemination

Dissemination of the results of the project in the scientific community, the involved stakeholders in the breeding and farming business, as well as the political actors and the extension services will be done by all partners. Means of dissemination are publications in scientific journals, regular field days and conferences, a public homepage, an online tool, and several workshops.