Introduction to the NUE-Crops Research Project

The NUE-CROPS project was a five year integrating project funded by the European Commission between 2009 and 2014.  The goal of the project was to reduce the environmental impact of crop production, while maintaining or improving current yield and quality levels and increasing sustainability and competitiveness of European crop production systems.  The project addressed this  challenge by generating new knowledge about nutrient use efficient (NUE) crop varieties and cropping systems.  NUE is known to be affected by three key factors:  plant genotype, farming practice, and the environment.  The interactions among these factors are sometimes referred to as the GxExM effect
The project focussed on four of the most important arable crops grown in Europe: wheat, maize, oilseed rape and potatoes.  Academic and industrial partners were included from six European countries as well as China, Turkey and the United States.  Advanced methods in molecular biology and genomics were used to identify “molecular markers” that can speed up the breeding process; these markers were linked with plant traits that improve NUE.  NUE traits included those associated with the rate and depth of root development, biomass partitioning during crop development, nutrient uptake, nutrient utilization, harvest components and maturity type.  The role of NUE varieties within cropping systems was investigated in partners’ field trials where different management practices (fertilizer type, tillage, rotation) were studied at a range of locations within Europe and China.  Field trial work was complemented with modelling studies where a broader range of management strategies and crop characteristics could be investigated.
Final reporting has now been completed and partners are in the process of publishing their results.  Explore these pages to learn more about the outcomes of this project. 

Some publications produced by NUE-CROPS partners on breeding and agronomic innovations to improve NUE are listed here:

Becker HC, Thorup Kristensen K, Cooper JM, Leifert C, Lammerts Van Bueren E (2014) Breeding for Nitrogen Efficiency - Concepts, Methods, and Case Studies. Euphytica Special Issue Summer 2014

Lammerts van Bueren E, Jones SS, Tamm L, Murphy KM, Myers JR, Leifert C, Messmer M (2010) The need to breed crop varieties suitable for organic farming, using wheat, tomato and broccoli as examples: A review. NJAS - Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 58 (3-4):193-205

Messmer M, Hildermann I, Thorup Kristensen K, Rengel Z (2011) Nutrient management in organic farming. In: Lammerts van Bueren ET, Myers JR (eds) Organic Crop Breeding. John Wiley and Sons, Oxford, UK, pp 15-38


Improving nutrient use efficiency in major European food, feed and biofuel crops to reduce negative environmental impacts of crop production - EU-FP7 222-645 (2009 - 2014).


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