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Review article2008Peer reviewed

Integrated agricultural research and crop breeding: Allelopathic weed control in cereals and long-term productivity in perennial bion ass crops

Weih, M.; Didon, U. M. E.; Ronnberg-Wastljung, A. -C.; Bjorkman, C.


Future agricultural research will need to increasingly integrate ecological, physiological and molecular methods, in order to understand agricultural crops in situ and their interaction with the environment as well as organisms impacting on their long-term health and productivity ('agricultural eco-genomics'). The need for integration will increasingly implicate on crop breeding strategies for most agricultural systems. In this paper, implications are highlighted for two contrasting areas of agricultural research related to sustainable crop production: first, the possibilities to utilize crop allelopathic activity to suppress weeds as an alternative to chemical weed control; and second the increasing interest to environmentally friendly and sustainable produce perennial energy crops on agricultural land. 'Sustainability' in agriculture is difficult to define unequivocally, but frequently implies the increased utilization of ecological processes. Breeding strategies towards increased utilization of allelopathic crops require initially the integration and verification of allelopathic processes in various agricultural contexts, because there is currently great uncertainty about the predictable operation of allelopathic activity in different ecological contexts. Breeding programs for future biomass crops, most promising are perennials such as Salix, would greatly benefit from the integration of ecological information affecting long-term productivity, e.g., ecophysiological growth determinants at stand level and the biological control of pests. Agricultural ecogenomics could facilitate a compromise between intensive agriculture and the frequently expressed demand for greater sustainability in agriculture. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


allelopathy; crop breeding; energy crops; quantitative trait loci (QTL); weed control; biological control; Salix; insect pests

Published in

Agricultural Systems
2008, Volume: 97, number: 3, pages: 99-107