Having a Field Day
Representatives from Taiwan’s seed companies, universities and research institutes meet to exchange perspectives and progress in breeding research
Seventy-one representatives from 16 Taiwan seed companies and 7 research institutes and universities convened at WorldVeg HQ on 24 May 2019 for the annual Information Exchange and Field Demonstration of Vegetable Breeding Research. The event, designed to foster collaboration with the Taiwan seed sector, is now in its third year.
WorldVeg Director General Marco Wopereis opened the day by presenting awards to eight seed companies that are helping regenerate seed for the WorldVeg genebank. “Your support is essential to improve the availability of WorldVeg germplasm to benefit seed growers and vegetable producers in Taiwan and around the world,” he said, thanking the companies for their participation. He also mentioned the seed exchange event held in February 2019 at the WorldVeg Research and Training Station in Kamphaeng Saen, Thailand, in which seed companies from Taiwan and Thailand met to explore common business goals, view trials of Taiwan and WorldVeg vegetable varieties under local conditions, and trade seed. Local farmers also attended that exchange as part of Taiwan’s Southbound Policy, which aims to foster greater engagement with countries in South and Southeast Asia.
In the tomato, pepper and cucurbit field trials, field day participants were able to evaluate crop performance at close range and meet with the breeders and field teams. They were then introduced to the new Phenospex field phenotyping system. “Phenospex offers exciting opportunities for research and WorldVeg scientists are desiging new experiments to explore all that the system can offer,” said Roland Schafleitner, Flagship Program Leader for Vegetable Diversity and Improvement. Two “PlantEye” multispectral 3D scanners hang from the center of the rail-mounted Phenospex gantry, which moves slowly and quietly up and down the field. The imaging units capture data on more than 17 plant parameters, including plant size, structure, color and more, and feed it directly to HortControl, a software system to manage and analyze field data in real time. The system is expected to speed up varietal improvement efforts.
After lunch participants discussed opportunities for joint breeding, seed regeneration and nutrition activities; received a briefing on breeding new rootstocks with stress tolerance; and learned about the HARVEST document archive (https://worldveg.tind.io).
Time slots for business meetings and closer interactions with individual research groups were a much-appreciated new feature of this year’s event. The personal discussions allowed for in-depth exploration of common interests, and are the first steps toward developing meaningful joint projects and activities.
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