Current problems arising from increasing amounts of inorganic fertilisers and pesticides are –
• Polluted air and water
• Decreased fertility of soil
Method that can help in overcoming these problems is reducing the amount of pesticides and fertilisers by plant breeding.
The main steps in breeding a new genetic variety of a crop are –
I. Collection of variability – Collection and preservation of all the different wild varieties, species and relatives of the cultivated species is a pre-requisite for effective exploitation of natural genes available in the populations.
II. Evaluation and selection of parents – The germplasm is evaluated so as to identify plants with desirable combination of characters. The selected plants are multiplied using hybridisation.
III. Cross-hybridisation among the selected parents – By cross-hybridisation the two parents, hybrids that genetically combine the desired characters in one plant is produced.
IV. Selection and testing of superior recombinants – This step includes selecting, among the progeny of the hybrids, those plants that have the desired character combination.
V. Testing, release and commercialisation of new cultivators – The newly selected lines are evaluated for their yield and other agronomic traits of quality, disease resistance, pest resistance, etc. This evaluation is done by growing these in research fields and recording their performance under crop management practices. Then they are tested in farmer’s fields for at least 3 growing seasons at several locations.
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