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Scientific collaboration for higher yields

Specialists of Saatzucht Bauer led by the CEO, Berthold Bauer, have visited Zashchitnoye plant breeding and growing operation belonging to EkoNiva Group. The parties discussed the cooperation prospects in cereals and pulses breeding and seed growing, looked at the trial plots and toured the Plant Breeding Centre.

EkoNiva and Saatzucht Bauer have been collaborating on commercial seed growing for nine years to offer the best European varieties of cereals and pulses to Russian farmers. In 2016, the companies agreed to expand their mutually beneficial partnership in plant breeding programmes and technologies, including incorporation of German varieties’ genetic potential in EkoNiva’s winter wheat programme. ‘The main objective of our project is to combine Russian winter hardiness and high baking quality with European yielding capacity and harvestability in the genomes of new wheat cultivars’, says Yuriy Vasyukov, Regional Director of Zashchitnoye. The resulting generations are selected and tested in different environmental conditions. The major goal is to obtain varieties with valuable economic traits that fully meet the requirements of the Russian agricultural market.

‘The cultivars chosen for further competitive trials exceed the regional standard by 8‑20%’, states Andrey Zvyagin, Manager of Plant Breeding and Variety Maintenance Department of EkoNiva‑Semena. During the visit, the parties also discussed on‑going issues and set further goals. ‘Modern techniques such as marker‑assisted breeding, haploid doubling and enclosed research greenhouses (phytotrons) make it possible to accelerate the plant breeding progress’, says Vitaliy Voloshchenko, Director of EkoNiva Plant Breeding Centre.

At present, EkoNiva is working on extending the geographical distribution of the in‑house varieties – for instance, winter wheat Cepheus, Alioth and Sheratan are undergoing trials in Belarus and Kazakhstan. ‘We see tremendous potential in cooperation with EkoNiva. It is one of the most innovative and open‑minded enterprises in Russia. Together we will make it to the top in plant breeding’, highlights Berthold Bauer. The partners agreed to commence the environmental evaluation of the new promising lines and varieties created by EkoNiva‑Semena Plant Breeding Centre for their further registration in the European countries. ‘Apart from specific business‑oriented targets, our plant breeding programme is aimed at meeting the criteria stated in the Food Security Doctrine of the Russian Federation and realising full export potential of the domestic farming sector’, concludes Sergey Lyashko, First Deputy Director General of EkoNiva‑APK Holding.

Source: EkoNiva News 10/2021 Nr. 73, by Tatyana IGNATENKO