Field phenotyping and long-term platforms to characterise how crop genotypes interact with soil processes and the environment

Timothy S. George*, Cathy Hawes, Adrian C. Newton, Blair M. McKenzie, Paul D. Hallett, Tracy A. Valentine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Unsustainable agronomic practices and environmental change necessitate a revolution in agricultural production to ensure food security. A new generation of crops that yield more with fewer inputs and are adapted to more variable environments is needed. However, major changes in breeding programmes may be required to achieve this goal. By using the genetic variation in crop yield in specific target environments that vary in soil type, soil management, nutrient inputs and environmental stresses, robust traits suited to specific conditions can be identified. It is here that long-term experimental platforms and field phenotyping have an important role to play. In this review, we will provide information about some of the field-based platforms available and the cutting edge phenotyping systems at our disposal. We will also identify gaps in our field phenotyping resources that should be filled. We will go on to review the challenges in producing crop ideotypes for the dominant management systems for which we need sustainable solutions, and we discuss the potential impact of three-way interactions between genetics, environment and management. Finally, we will discuss the role that modelling can play in allowing us to fast-track some of these processes to allow us to make rapid gains in agricultural sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-278
Number of pages37
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2014

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) of the Scottish Government through Work Package 3.3, 3.4 and 5.2 (2011–2016). The work is also supported by the HGCA and Potato Council through grants funding projects ―Platforms to test and demonstrate sustainable soil management integration of major UK field experiments (Platforms) and ―Soil platforms assessing the impact of potatoes in rotations on soil physical conditions respectively and also through a Defra-Link project ―New wheat root ideotypes for low input systems. The authors would like to thank Mark Young with assistance in generating the figures. The authors would also like to thank Ali Karley and Pete Goddard for useful comments on an early draft of this manuscript


  • Agronomy
  • Field phenotyping
  • Genetics
  • Long-term platforms
  • Organic production
  • Pest and disease resistance
  • Polyculture
  • Reduced inputs
  • Reduced tillage
  • Roots


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