Currently and in future, the Swiss agricultural sector and its downstream branches right up to the consumer are, and will be, reliant on varieties that are site-adapted, make highly efficient use of available resources, can handle more-extreme climatic conditions, and use minimal amounts of plant-protection products owing to their resistance to pathogens and pests. At the same time, the varieties should contribute to cost-efficient primary production and products should meet the most stringent quality requirements of the processing chains and consumers. Consequently, focused local breeding is crucial, particularly for crop species for which international breeding programmes do not meet these Swiss market requirements.
To achieve these objectives, efficient breeding based on innovative breeding research is necessary. Well-characterised genetic resources and cutting-edge breeding methods that also make use of the potentials of genome research and high-throughput phenotyping form the basis for this. In addition, variety research and testing providing farmers and the sector with objective decision-making foundations for the site-adapted use of the nationally and internationally available varieties are essential. New methods such as ‘digital phenotyping’, ‘genotyping’, ‘envirotyping’ and statistical modelling are used to this end. Ultimately, the steady evolution of seed and planting material quality assurance forms the basis for sustainable plant production. To support the social discourse on genetic engineering and new breeding methods with scientific foundations, prototypes based on these methods should be tested under field conditions on the Protected Site.