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A proposal for enhanced EU herbage VCU and DUS testing procedures

Abstract : Herbage production is regarded as having environment‐friendly credentials. However, as the ruminant production it supports is facing major challenges on sustainability, environmental footprint and human health concerns, EU herbage cultivar testing must contribute to the solutions. Before new cultivars can be sold in a member state (MS) and gain EU‐wide marketing, they must pass official tests to prove they are both novel (distinct, uniform and stable, DUS) with improved value for cultivation and use (VCU). Herbage species present specific challenges, as their allogamy imposes a wide within‐cultivar variation that adds complexity to DUS tests and their “value” is only realized in ruminant produce. Current VCU systems measure production, chemical composition and disease/stress tolerances, often on large numbers of candidate cultivars, but prohibitive labour costs and logistics mean that animal intake, ruminant output or environmental benefits cannot be measured directly. Furthermore, some candidate cultivars with proven superior VCU fail DUS even though the non‐distinct comparison is with a significantly lower performing registered cultivar. To resolve these problem cases, a “vmDUS” distinctness tool is proposed, which uses molecular markers but conforms to UPOV‐declared principles. A short overview of current grassland research shows smart proxy measures of animal value can easily and quickly be adopted into an integrated pan‐European (EU‐VCU) test network. The proposed EU‐VCU scheme will reallocate test resources to conduct these additional tests by placing MS in data sharing collaborations, while retaining their national listing authority. The benefits to all stakeholders from adopting these new testing procedures are considered.
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Contributor : Eric Marchoux <>
Submitted on : Thursday, January 28, 2021 - 11:19:43 AM
Last modification on : Friday, May 21, 2021 - 5:54:02 PM


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Trevor Gilliland, Paolo Annicchiarico, Bernadette Julier, Marc Ghesquière. A proposal for enhanced EU herbage VCU and DUS testing procedures. Grass and Forage Science, Wiley, 2020, 75 (3), pp.227 - 241. ⟨10.1111/gfs.12492⟩. ⟨hal-03123852⟩



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