Crop diversity plays a central role in the land use systems of the future. Many problems of today's agriculture result from the limited diversity of our crop plants. The JKI therefore aims to increase crop diversity and improve the biodiversity and ecosystem services of agricultural production systems.
A key role in increasing crop diversity and improving varieties in terms of their suitability for resilient production systems is played by genetic resources. The JKI makes important contributions to safeguarding plant genetic resources for food and agriculture within the framework of its participation in the strategies of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) (Agrobiodiversity Strategy, National Technical Programme 'Plant Genetic Resources') and its collaboration in national and international committees. The JKI develops strategies for the conservation of breeding-relevant wild species in their natural habitats (in situ) and of cultivated species in the context of agricultural use (on farm).
Of particular importance with regard to the adaptation of our crop species to changing production conditions is the evaluation and characterisation of genetic resources at physiological, metabolic and molecular level using so-called omics technologies and their utilisation through breeding research and pre-breeding.
The collection and conservation of fruit and vine genetic resources in gene banks (ex situ) and their evaluation, including the documentation of data in public databases, are further important fields of action.
Agriculture is now held responsible as one of many causes for the current decline in biodiversity in Germany. The JKI is playing a key role in setting up long-term monitoring to record the state of biodiversity in agriculture using reliable data. In addition, the JKI is looking for the causes of the decline in biodiversity and for ways to promote biodiversity in the agricultural landscape. For example, optimised cultivation systems are being developed that contribute to the protection and promotion of endangered animal and plant species. This also includes expanding the diversity of crop species by integrating neglected and new crop species. In addition, work is being done on optimising plant protection and cultivation methods in order to protect beneficial organisms, pollinators and other non-target organisms and to open up development potential for them.