This autumn we are launching the third season of Innovar VCU trials. This season 25 VCU trials, including core, drought, and organic trials, located in 5 different agroclimatic zones across Europe are being carried out. We already have data for the 20-21 and 21-22 season. For each trial phenotypic, weather, soil and phenomic data are being recorded. Phenotypic data includes thirty different traits related to crop development and growth, disease and stress incidences, and yield related traits.
Additional measurements related to yield components such as biomass and senescence are also being recorded in several trials. Weather data are being collected by meteo stations installed in trial sites. The meteo stations send data related to different climate and soil variables directly to a server that can be consulted through internet. The soils of all sites have been characterized and assessed. Trusted soil experts performed soil and site descriptions, including soil classification and sampling.
Soil samples (already taken from the different trials) of the second sampling year will be sent late 2022 for laboratory analyses. Phenomic data are being collected by Micasense sensors and RGB portable cameras for a subset of the core trials. In addition to phenomics using drones, RGB images are being collected in parallel using portable cameras on other VCU core trials. All image data for the last seasons are ready, and the pipeline required to analyse the data is almost completed. Once the pipeline is complete, the database will be populated with the extracted data in the Innovar database. Preliminary evaluation of previous seasons showed differences in the variability and distribution of data for the different ACZ and regarding the fungicide/PGR treatments (full, optimum and minimal).
For bread wheat, Maritime North ACZ showed the highest yield and plant height and latest heading date followed by Maritime South while Mediterranean area showed the lowest yield and plant height and earliest heading. The highest differences between the treatments were observed in Maritime North ACZ and were associated with a stronger disease pressure. In the case of durum wheat, Maritime south ACZ showed the highest yield and yield components such as TGW or specific weight while it showed the lowest plant height and late flowering. Mediterranean ACZ showed the earliest heading dates, probably related to climate characteristics. In the third season, we are incorporating different nitrogen treatments in several durum trials, which will be useful to optimise crop management practices and disease incidence effect. The information gathered across the different sites will facilitate the harmonization of VCU trials across Europe. In addition, data will be used to develop an App to help growers take decisions on the selection of best varieties based on a high-performance low risk (HPLR) categorisation that considers the agroclimatic conditions and disease pressure of the region.