Skip to main content Accessibility help

Use of quality seed as a means to sustainably intensify northern European barley production

  • P. PELTONEN-SAINIO (a1) and A. RAJALA (a1)


Rates of commercial certified seed (CCS) use are low, but comprehensive upgrading of farm-saved seed (FSS) is also often neglected in northern Europe, represented in the present paper by Finland. In general, available growth resources are particularly underutilized in the northern and eastern parts of Europe, in contrast with the prime agricultural areas of western Europe. The present paper demonstrates the potential of increasing CCS use, and/or upgrading FSS, to boost yields at regional and national level. The assessment indicated that a substantial increase in CCS use in Finland, to correspond with that of Sweden and Denmark, is a basic, readily available and easily applicable means of sustainably intensifying northern European barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) production. Yield benefits averaged 440 kg/ha, corresponding to a 13% increase at national scale. Cultivar change contributed to about one-third of the benefit. At the national scale, an additional 20 000 tonnes of nitrogen (c. 8% increase) would be removed with the yields that would considerably exceed 2000 Gg annually compared with the present c. 1900 Gg total production of barley. Higher use of CCS represents a win–win situation for farmers, plant breeding companies and industry.


Corresponding author

*To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email:


Hide All
Anonymous (2004). Wheat Seed Health & Seed-borne Diseases – a Guide. London, UK: HGCA.
Anonymous (2012). Selvitys Sertifioidun Siemenen Käytön Lisäarvosta Ja Vaikutuksesta Sadon Laatuun (Survey on Use of Commercial Certified Seed, its Added Value and Effects on Yield and Quality – in Finnish). Helsinki: Finnish Cereal Committee. Available from: (verified 28 March 2012).
Benjamin, L. R. (1990). Variation in time of seedling emergence within populations: a feature that determines individual growth and development. Advances in Agronomy 44, 125.
Bindi, M. & Olesen, J. E. (2011). The responses of agriculture in Europe to climate change. Regional Environmental Change 11, 151158.
Boland, M., Dhuyvetter, K. & Howe, M. (2001). Economic Issues with Certified and Farmer-saved Wheat Seed. Manhattan, KS, USA: Kansas State University.
Chastain, T. G., Ward, K. J. & Wysocki, D. J. (1995). Stand establishment responses of soft white winter wheat to seedbed residue and seed size. Crop Science 35, 213218.
Egli, D. B. (2006). The role of seed in the determination of yield of grain crops. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 57, 12371247.
Elsgaard, L., Børgesen, C. D., Olesen, J. E., Siebert, S., Ewert, F., Peltonen-Sainio, P., Rötter, R. & Skjelvåg, A. (2012). Shifts in comparative advantages for maize, oat and wheat cropping under climate change in Europe. Food Additives & Contaminants, Part A 29, 15141526.
EVIRA (2011). Finnish Plant Variety Journal 2.
Foley, J. A., Ramankutty, N., Brauman, K. A., Cassidy, E. S., Gerber, J. S., Johnston, M., Mueller, N. D., O'Connell, C., Ray, D. K., West, P. C., Balzer, C., Bennett, E. M., Carpenter, S. R., Hill, J., Monfreda, C., Polasky, S., Rockstrom, J., Sheehan, J., Siebert, S., Tilman, D. & Zaks, D. P. M. (2011). Solutions for a cultivated planet. Nature 478, 337342.
Gan, Y., Stobbe, E. H. & Moes, J. (1992). Relative date of wheat seedling emergence and its impact on grain yield. Crop Science 32, 12751281.
Garstang, J. (1993). The effects of volunteers on cereal quality and profitability. Aspects of Applied Biology 35, 6774.
Hakala, K., Jauhiainen, L., Himanen, S. J., Rötter, R., Salo, T. & Kahiluoto, H. (2012). Sensitivity of barley varieties to weather in Finland. Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 150, 145160.
Håkansson, I., Keller, T., Arvidsson, J. & Rydberg, T. (2012). Effects of seedbed properties on crop emergence. 5. Effects of aggregate size, sowing depth and simulated rainfall after sowing on harmful surface-layer hardening. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B: Soil and Plant Science 62, 362373.
IPCC (2011). Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). A Special Report of Working Group I and Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Summary for Policymakers (Eds Field, C. B., Barros, V., Stocker, T. F., Qin, D., Dokken, D. J., Ebi, K. L., Mastrandrea, M. D., Mach, K. J., Plattner, G.-K., Allen, S. K., Tignor, M. & Midgley, P. M.), pp. 119. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Johnsson, L., Hökeberg, M. & Gerhardson, B. (1998). Performance of the Pseudomonas chlororaphis biocontrol agent MA 342 against cereal seed-borne diseases in field experiments. European Journal of Plant Pathology 104, 701711.
Kirby, E. J. M. (1993). Effect of sowing depth on seedling emergence, growth and development in barley and wheat. Field Crops Research 35, 101111.
Law, J. R., Thomas, J. E., Kenyon, D. M., Thompson, P., Smith, M. J. & Cockerell, V. (2004). Variability in the distribution of seed-borne diseases in wheat seed bulks, and the derivation of sampling procedures for their detection. In Cereal Seed Health and Seed Treatment Strategies: Exploiting New Seed Testing Technology to Optimise Seed Health Decisions for Wheat. HGCA Project Report No. 340 (Eds Cockerell, V., Paveley, N. D., Clark, W. S., Thomas, J. E., Anthony, S., McEwan, M., Bates, J., Roberts, A. M. I., Law, J., Kenyon, D. M. & Mulholland, V.), pp. 6584. London: HGCA.
Manninen, O. & Nissilä, E. (1997). Genetic diversity among Finnish six-rowed barley cultivars based on pedigree information and DNA markers. Hereditas 126, 8793.
Naylor, R. E. L. & Gurmu, M. (1990). Seed vigour and water relations in wheat. Annals of Applied Biology 117, 441450.
Nonogaki, H., Bassel, G. W. & Bewley, J. D. (2010). Germination – still a mystery. Plant Science 179, 574581.
Olesen, J. E., Trnka, M., Kersebaum, K. C., Skjelvåg, A. O., Seguin, B., Peltonen-Sainio, P., Rossi, F., Kozyra, J. & Micale, F. (2011). Impacts and adaptation of European crop production systems to climate change. European Journal of Agronomy 34, 96112.
Paveley, N. D., Rennie, W. J., Reeves, J. C., Wray, M. W., Slawson, D. D., Clark, W. S., Cockerell, V. & Mitchell, A. G. (1996). Cereal Seed Health and Seed Treatment Strategies. HGCA Research Review No. 34. London: HGCA.
Peltonen-Sainio, P. (1999). Growth and development of oat with special reference to source-sink interaction and productivity. In Crop Yield: Physiology and Processes (Eds Hamel, C. & Smith, D. L.), pp. 3966. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Peltonen-Sainio, P. (2012). Crop production in a Northern climate. In Working Papers of FAO/OECD Workshop: Building Resilience for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Agriculture Sector, Chapter 4, Supporting Thematic Studies. Available online at: (accessed 15 October 2012).
Peltonen-Sainio, P., Jauhiainen, L. & Hannukkala, A. (2007). Declining rapeseed yields in Finland: how, why and what next? Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 145, 587598.
Peltonen-Sainio, P., Jauhiainen, L. & Laurila, I. P. (2009 a). Cereal yield trends in northern European conditions: changes in yield potential and its realisation. Field Crops Research 110, 8590.
Peltonen-Sainio, P., Jauhiainen, L., Hakala, K. & Ojanen, H. (2009 b). Climate change and prolongation of growing season: changes in regional potential for field crop production in Finland. Agricultural and Food Science 18, 171190.
Peltonen-Sainio, P., Rajala, A., Känkänen, H. & Hakala, K. (2009 c). Improving farming systems in northern European conditions. In Crop Physiology: Applications for Genetic Improvement and Agronomy (Eds Sadras, V. O. & Calderini, D.), pp. 7197. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.
Peltonen-Sainio, P., Rajala, A. & Jauhiainen, L. (2011 a). Hidden viability risks in the use of farm-saved small-grain seed. Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 149, 713724.
Peltonen-Sainio, P., Jauhiainen, L. & Sadras, V. O. (2011 b). Phenotypic plasticity of yield and agronomic traits in cereals and rapeseed at high latitudes. Field Crops Research 124, 261269.
Porter, J. R., Soussana, J.-F., Fereres, E., Long, S., Mohren, F., Peltonen-Sainio, P. & Von Braun, J. (2012). European perspectives: an agronomic science plan for food security in a changing climate. In Handbook of Climate Change and Agroecosystems. Global and Regional Aspects and Implications (Eds Hillel, D. & Rosenzweig, C.), pp. 7384. ICP Series on Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation. Vol. 2. London: Imperial College Press.
Rajala, A., Niskanen, M., Isolahti, M. & Peltonen-Sainio, P. (2011). Seed quality effects on seedling emergence, plant stand establishment and grain yield in two-row barley. Agricultural and Food Science 20, 228234.
Reidsma, P. & Ewert, F. (2008). Regional farm diversity can reduce vulnerability of food production to climate change. Ecology and Society 13, 38. Available from: (verified 30 March 2012).
Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin, F. S., Lambin, E., Lenton, T. M., Scheffer, M., Folke, C., Schellnhuber, H., Nykvist, B., De Wit, C. A., Hughes, T., Van Der Leeuw, S., Rodhe, H., Sörlin, S., Snyder, P. K., Costanza, R., Svedin, U., Falkenmark, M., Karlberg, L., Corell, R. W., Fabry, V. J., Hansen, J., Walker, B., Liverman, D., Richardson, K., Crutzen, P. & Foley, J. (2009). Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14, 32. Available online:
Soussana, J.-F., Fereres, E., Long, S. P., Mohren, F. G. M. J., Pandya-Lorch, R., Peltonen-Sainio, P., Porter, J. R., Rosswall, T. & Von Braun, J. (2012). A European science plan to sustainably increase food security under climate change. Global Change Biology 18, 32693271.
Stoate, C., Baldi, A., Beja, P., Boatman, N. D., Herzon, I., Van Doorn, A., De Snoo, G. R., Rakosy, L. & Ramwell, C. (2009). Ecological impacts of early 21st century agricultural change in Europe – a review. Journal of Environmental Management 91, 2246.
Tekrony, D. M. (1999). Planting farmer saved wheat seed – are you really saving money? University of Kentucky Wheat News 3. Available from: (verified 15 October 2012).
VYR (2012). Farmers’ Sowing Plan Survey 2012. Vilja-alan Yhteistyöryhmä. Available from (verified 29 March 2012) (In Finnish)
Weitbrecht, K., Müller, K. & Leubner-Metzger, G. (2011). First off the mark: early seed germination. Journal of Experimental Botany 62, 32893309.

Use of quality seed as a means to sustainably intensify northern European barley production

  • P. PELTONEN-SAINIO (a1) and A. RAJALA (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed