Training of early stage researchers was an important component of NUE-CROPS activities. The first two training workshops were held at Newcastle University (UK) in January 2012. The workshops were entitled: “Methods/strategies for QTL identification, association genetics and marker-assisted breeding” and “Application of transcriptomic and proteomic methods/approaches in crop breeding”. Participants enjoyed listening to an informative and entertaining range of speakers on these complex subjects, as well as participating in interactive sessions.
The focus of the third NUE-CROPS training workshop was quite different. At this event early stage researchers learned about farmer participatory approaches to crop breeding, with a particular emphasis on examples from the developing world. Speakers included Prof. Kevin Murphy, Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Washington State University, who conducts research on barley breeding and genetics; quinoa breeding and agronomy; buckwheat, proso millet and spelt breeding; farmer participatory research of organic hop cropping systems; and organic wheat breeding, with a focus on improving the nutritional value of wheat. Monika Messmer from FiBL, Switzerland, provided experiences from farmer participatory cereal breeding programmes that she has been involved with in Europe and India. Bernd Horneburg works with organic tomato growers in Germany and highlighted the potential to use amateur gardeners as a source of germplasm and expertise for tomato varietal development. Activities were divided between lectures, discussion and a final interactive activity on the second day. The event was held in Sivas, Crete, Greece, on 9 & 10 June 2012.
Workshop in Sivas, Crete
The fourth NUE-CROPS training workshop was hosted by Wageningen University in The Netherlands, from 9 - 14 September 2012. It featured an in depth programme on methodologies to study morphological, physiological and genetic mechanisms of nitrogen and phosphorus use efficiency in plants. Featured speakers included: Peter Gregory from the University of Reading in the UK, Kristian Thorup-Kristensen from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and John Kirkegaard from CSIRO in Australia.
A final workshop on "Improving resource efficiency in crop and livestock production systems: tools and techniques" was held on 8 and 9 April 2014 in conjunction with the LowInputBreeds project. Early stage researchers and local advisors enjoyed a stimulating programme of speakers on topics including N budgeting, N dynamics modelling and C accounting. Activities included formal lectures and lots of hands-on practice using some of the freely available software packages for assessing environmental impact of farming systems.
Participants in the workshop on improving resource efficiency, Newcastle, April 2014
Many participants at the NUE-CROPS training workshops benefited from travel and accommodation bursaries. This allowed people to travel from as far away as China to participate in these events.