Characteristics such as the colour of the flower and hilum of the seeds, stem/hull hairs, ripening period, susceptibility for diseases and shattering, as well as protein/oil and crop yield and, in particular, the regional cultivation suitability of these soya bean varieties provided by 14 plant breeders can be looked up in the Austrian Descriptive Variety List and the Variety Finder internet tool provided by AGES. The 10 varieties listed over the past two years come from five different breeders, with Austrian plant breeding companies being at least partly involved in the growing of seven of these 10 varieties. These 10 new varieties are based on 19 different parental components resulting in a composite index of 1.9 from a breeding perspective. The parent component index of all varieties currently listed in Austria since 1994 is 1.6. This stems from the fact that successfully listed varieties may be used for breeding new varieties as part of the plant breeder privilege.
Soya beans are a good example for illustrating that a species not cultivated in Austria 50 years ago has widened the range of arable crops over recent years and has been able to establish itself as a valuable component in crop rotation. Furthermore, as legumes, soya beans are able to fix nitrogen directly from the air thanks to their symbiosis with root nodule bacteria. Thus, soya beans do not require fertilization with mineral based nitrogen as opposed to cereal crops, saving high energy-consuming production.
Austrian production of soya beans for human and animal consumption expands the local range of arable crops, together with other oil plant species, such as oil pumpkins, sunflowers and winter rape seed. The varieties tested for domestic cultivation areas differ in regards to their numerous parent components and characteristics. Therefore, the soya bean species is contributing to the larger diversity in varieties desired by the public for this crop, which is becoming increasingly important in European agriculture, in the longer-term.
New varieties by many different plant breeders featuring different ripening times, higher tolerances to fungal and viral contamination and, at the same time, showing higher yield potential, are contributing to making the supplying of the EU with guaranteed non-genetically modified varieties a reality. The breeding progress made in new varieties is an integral part in achieving yield increases through more intensive agriculture that is sustainable and environmentally friendly.