Better evaluating varieties and seeds adapted to agro-ecology, contributing to the conservation and study of biodiversity in relation to varieties


New varieties are a lever in the agro-ecological transition towards production systems that are based on the functionalities offered by ecosystems, to improve crop production while aiming to reduce pressure on the environment: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, limiting the use of inputs (plant protection products, fertilisers, water, etc.) and preserving natural resources and biodiversity.

The reduction in the use of synthetic plant protection products and the withdrawal of certain active substances mean that it is even more important to evaluate varietal resistance to pests and diseases, and to control the sanitary quality of seed lots. The development of methods for evaluating new traits or detecting new pathogens, such as phenotyping by imaging the covering power of varieties or the use of ‘broad spectrum’ detection tests for pathogens, can help to reduce the use of plant protection products.

Evaluating the effectiveness of biocontrol solutions and thermotherapy on seeds are also major issues. The same applies to evaluating the effectiveness of biostimulants applied to seeds on germination and the early stages of seedling development, a role that is also growing with the reduction in the use of synthetic fertilisers.

Variety evaluation networks need to take account of changes in cropping practices associated with the agro-ecological transition. This transition implies an increase in intra-varietal, inter-varietal and cultivated species diversity, and increases the importance of mobilising plant genetic resources.

It is important to develop protocols and methods for evaluating less homogeneous material (population varieties, heterogeneous material). Maintaining the diversity and genetic potential of varieties is crucial, in order to encourage new uses and to have different sources of resistance, including intermediate resistances. Evaluating the suitability of varieties for association (varietal mixtures and species associations), evaluating plant habit, and evaluating minor species and service plants needs to be strengthened.

Priority actions

Develop methods for :

  • evaluating varietal resistance/tolerance to the most damaging pests ;
  • detecting on seeds the bio-aggressors most damaging to cultures and the conservation of seed lots;
  • data collection and processing to characterise trial conditions and cropping practices, and to deploy envirotyping tools;
  • evaluating the effectiveness of biosolutions applied to seeds;
  • evaluating the suitability of varieties for combination (varietal mixes and species associations);
  • evaluating new uses and new services provided by varieties.

Monitoring themes

Surveys of cropping practices carried out by technical institutes or other stakeholders in the sector can provide interesting information on the practices to be considered in trial networks.

GEVES will continue to monitor the characterisation of mechanisms and interactions taking place in the “soil” compartment, in particular plant/micro-organism interactions, and the phenotyping of phenomena linked to root exploration and absorption.

Examples of projects


Organic seeds and plant breeding to accelerate the development of sustainable and diversified food systems in Europe.


Resistance/tolerance to Wheat dwarf Virus in wheat and barley.