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Doctoral thesis, 2024

New potential in old varieties : Using landrace cereal to meet food production challenges

Ortman, Tove

Abstract

Landrace cereals – historical varieties characterised by high genetic diversity – have long been considered obsolete, and have almost completely been replaced by high yielding but high input-dependent cultivars. However, the need for increased multifunctional and low-input farming, and for finding varieties that can be robust to environmental stresses, has meant that these old varieties have been revalued. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the potential of landrace cereals in modern farming, and how landrace performance is influenced by environmental conditions and farmers’ management practices. By using a transdisciplinary perspective involving farmers’ experiences and motivations as well as field experiments and onfarm experiments, the results indicate that landraces have traits that can contribute to multifunctional farming systems and be used for farming on marginal lands, i.e. lands with poor soil fertility. Landrace spring wheat was shown to be providing similar yields as modern varieties under low-to-medium input organic conditions, and landrace of spring wheat and rye are shown to provide additional ecological services beyond yield, such as weed suppression and a high straw yield. These additional services were found to be valued by farmers that use landrace cereals, and be important for their cropping systems. However, challenges like lack of knowledge on landrace management, e.g. seed borne diseases, and restrictions in seed legislation hinder a further expansion of the landrace cereal cultivation. In conclusion, this study shows that, with appropriate management, landraces can have potential in organic farming, or for farming in environmentally challenging conditions, and can contribute to increased food security and sustainability of food production.

Keywords

Agroecology; Heritage cereals; Agrobiodiversity; Participatory plant breeding; Farmers’ management; GxExM interactions; Seed commons

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2024, number: 2024:7
ISBN: 978-91-8046-278-5, eISBN: 978-91-8046-279-2
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
    Agricultural Science

    Publication identifier

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.54612/a.cdnn08d64f

    Permanent link to this page (URI)

    https://res.slu.se/id/publ/127019