Impact of fertilization, crop protection and growth regulators on growth and yield of old and modern winter wheat cultivars

Study in collaboration with University of Bonn

In a long-term fertilization experiment at the University of Bonn (Dikopshof), a continuous increase in grain yields of winter wheat during the 20th and early 21st century from about 2 to 10 t/ha was observed for plots with good nutrient supply. However, when the wheat varieties that ever have been grown in the experiment were cultivated in parallel, even very old cultivars achieved high yields of up to 10 t/ha with small differences to yields of modern cultivars. This means that breeding progress was not the main factor contributing to the observed historical yield increase. But what was it then? In a field trial carried out by the Division of Agronomy at the University of Göttingen, the impact of crop protection, growth regulators and fertilization on grain yields of old and new cultivars will be investigated.

The field trial was established with 16 winter wheat cultivars released in Germany between 1895 and 2007 and grown before at the long-term experiment Dikopshof. Objective is to test the impact of the factors fertilization, crop protection and growth regulators on crop yield but also on other variables. The following factors and factor levels are tested:

# Factor Factor levels
1 Cultivar 16 cultivars released in period 1895-2007
2 Fertilization 3 levels (zero, intermediate, high)
3 Crop protection 2 levels (with, without)
4 Growth regulators 2 levels (with, without)

The 192 plots are arranged in a randomized block design with 12 blocks. The 16 cultivars are grown in each of the 12 blocks.

In order to answer the research questions, numerous parameters will be measured or observed in the field. For example, bachelor theses will investigate the effect of the use of crop protection and growth regulators on the grain yield of old and new wheat cultivars. The architecture of the plants and plant stands will also be studied. So it will be interesting to see how the number, height and position of the leaves in wheat cultivars differ among the wheat cultivars and how the light interception and radiation use efficiency are affected. Previous studies on the phenology of the different wheat cultivars have shown that the flowering of modern cultivars is up to two weeks earlier than flowering of old cultivars. Therefore another focus will be on the cultivar differences in crop phenology. Master's theses are also suggested for various topics. For example, it should be examined whether old and modern wheat cultivars differ in terms of root development. The effects of fertilization and the use of growth regulators will also be taken into account. Furthermore the impact of the wheat cultivars (old vs. modern) as well as the use of growth regulators on the greenhouse gas emissions will be examined. Other topics proposed for theses can be found in the "Teaching" section of our website.

Members of the agronomy division involved in the study

Katharina Hey (reponsible)
Prof. Dr. Stefan Siebert
Dr. Ana Meijide
Dr. Hamideh Nouri

Project duration

The field trial was finished in August 2020. The data analysis is ongoing.

Partners (external)

Dr. Hubert Hüging, Dr. Hella Ahrends, Dr. Thomas Gaiser (Crop Science group at University of Bonn)