The Future Farmstead will design agricultural landscapes that maintain the most productive land for food and fiber production while using marginal lands and conservation buffer areas for biomass production. We will also evaluate and develop plants suited to the southeast’s subtropical climate. Crop plants better adapted to local conditions are able to maximize yields and production efficiencies. Varieties with improved characteristics for specific markets will reduce the need for additional inputs which saves the farmer time and energy, allowing them to concentrate on the most critical needs.
Commercial fertilizers and pesticides are the most energy intensive of all farm inputs. Reducing the use of these chemicals through plant breeding techniques will reduce energy use on the farm. The plant breeding and genetics programs of the University of Georgia and USDA at Tifton have developed crop varieties which offer multiple pathogen resistance in combination with improved quality. The Future Farmstead will utilize traditional breeding methods coupled with marker assisted selection technologies to expedite the transfer of traits related to optimizing crop performance under water and pest stresses.
Using DNA analysis, molecular markers shown to be linked with a trait of interest are used to accelerate the transfer of the traits to improved varieties. Markers linked to several of these traits to improved varieties. Markers linked to several of these traits have already been identified and can be readily implemented to facilitate breeding, while others will require additional research to develop. Another DNA-based technique that will be used for crop improvement allows the identification of mutations in genes whose DNA sequence is known.
Crop production whether it is forage/bioenergy, row crop, vegetables or fruit is the essence of farming DNA sequence information is expanding rapidly in crop plants making translational genomics feasible.