23 Dec 2019
Story: 'Resistant varieties for a better environment'
Genetics is in her blood, as she puts it. As Breeding Manager Terra, Beatrice explores new solutions and opportunities with her colleagues on a daily basis, resulting in better crops and more sustainable production.
Breeding improved varieties
Beatrice is involved in the breeding programmes for a number of open-field crops. “Crops like spinach, beetroot, rocket, endive, chicory and fennel. We develop new and improved varieties. We cross-breed plants and make selections based on favourable traits such as flavour, shape, colour, yield and robustness, in line with the needs throughout the whole chain – from growers to consumers.”
Robustness is a recurring theme in Beatrice’s story. “Resilient and robust crops are becoming increasingly important. The world around us is changing and climate conditions are ever-more extreme. We’re investing heavily in developing more robust vegetable varieties that can cope well with a wide range of conditions in different climate zones. That’s necessary in order to be able to continue to feed the world, now and in the future.”
Resistances against diseases and pests is a key breeding objective when developing varieties. “By breeding varieties that require less use of crop protection agents, we make a direct contribution to a better environment. This has the biggest impact in the case of crops that take a long time to grow out in the field, such as leek. The plant is exposed to potentially harmful factors such as diseases, fungi and insects the whole time, so we can add the most value by developing resistant varieties for those vegetable types – both for growers, because they reduce their costs and are more certain of a good harvest, and for society as a whole, because such varieties help to preserve the environment.”
“Our work is increasingly specialised. In order to achieve the desired result, we bring together various areas of expertise and we collaborate closely with research institutes, for instance. After all, we have a shared responsibility and a common interest: a sustainable food supply for our future world.”
Together with Beatrice, Rijk Zwaan is continuously developing new varieties based on changing wants, needs and conditions. Among other things, our focus on resistances reduces the use of crop protection agents. That’s how we are contributing to a better and cleaner environment.