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South Australian Alfalfa Knowledge to the World

Alan Humphries

Alfalfa breeder Alan Humphries (SARDI) with the woody shrub Medicago arborea, a crop wild relative used to introduce new diversity into the alfalfa genepool, at the Waite Institute, Adelaide, South Australia. Photo: Michael Major for Crop Trust

20 February 2023

Researchers from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) have joined forces with the Crop Trust in a three-year effort to use wild relatives of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) to improve alfalfa varieties available to producers in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan.

Under the Crop Trust's 'Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD)' Project, the collaboration is aimed at expanding the livestock rearing and forage production opportunities for smallholder farmers in these countries, improving their resilience to lower rainfall and higher temperature changes associated with variable climate.

“This latest alfalfa project will identify crop wild relatives that have been collected from extreme environments in the partner countries, producing fresh seed that can be conserved in national genebanks and backed up in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault," said Alan Humphries, Curator, Australian Pastures Genebank and principal investigator of the new project.

The project is the latest joint initiative between SARDI and the Crop Trust, following an earlier joint six-year project looking into drought-tolerant alfalfa varieties.

The BOLD Project aims to strengthen food and nutrition security worldwide by supporting the conservation and use of crop diversity. Managed by Crop Trust, the program is implemented in partnership with national and international genebanks and plant breeding institutes around the world.

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