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FFAR awards €5 million to CropXR research

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), an American organisation dedicated to funding bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges through public-private partnerships, has awarded €5 million to CropXR’s 10-year research programme into ‘smart breeding’ methods for more resilient crops.

FFAR’s funds will support a research programme that combines plant biology, computational modelling, and artificial intelligence. The CropXR programme aims to understand the complex mechanisms behind plant resilience and translate that insight into innovative ‘smart breeding’ methods that can efficiently enhance complex resilience traits in crops.

The research programme is the central component of CropXR’s broader efforts to build, support, and facilitate a development pipeline towards more resilient, sustainable, and climate-adaptive varieties of agricultural crops.

Speeding up the development of resilient crops is important because, while many crops will face more extreme conditions due to climate change, stricter environmental regulations will reduce farmers’ ability to protect them from harm using agrochemical products. All the while, agricultural production will need to keep up with a growing world population and demand for food.

Sustainable and climate-adaptive

“This crucial funding from FFAR will not just support basic research and fundamental understanding but also help us translate the new insights into an innovative method for breeding more resilient crops,” said Guido Van den Ackerveken, Scientific Director of CropXR. “FFAR helps us in our mission to make agriculture worldwide become more sustainable and more climate adaptive.”

“Traditional as well as many cutting-edge plant breeding practices have trouble responding quickly to emerging climate threats,” said Dr. Angela Records, FFAR chief scientific officer. “This research is integrating a spectrum of technology and knowledge to allow plant breeding to be nimble in meeting our global food and nutritional needs.”

Integration of plant biology, computational modelling, and AI

In CropXR’s research programme, academic groups will integrate multiple disciplines to increase their understanding of plant resilience, a complex trait in which many genes and processes interact. Simultaneously, in collaboration with leading plant breeding companies, they will develop a ‘smart breeding’ method that will enable breeders to enhance crop resilience more quickly and more efficiently. They will test the feasibility of the new ‘smart breeding’ method on model crops ranging from lettuce and tomato to potato, onion and ornamentals.

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About FFAR

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 US Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on US taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.

Connect: @FoundationFAR

> Read FFAR’s news release on the FFAR website.

About CropXR

CropXR is an initiative of four Dutch knowledge institutions (Utrecht University, Wageningen University and Research, the University of Amsterdam, and Delft University of Technology) and Plantum, the umbrella organisation of approximately 250 Dutch-based producers of starting materials such as vegetable seeds, seed potatoes and ornamental crops.

CropXR’s mission is to make agricultural production less vulnerable to climate change and less dependent on artificial fertilizers and chemical pesticides.

In addition to knowledge institutions, dozens of public and private partners participate in CropXR’s work, including ‘green’ universities of applied sciences, biotechnology companies, processing industries and large and medium-sized plant breeding companies.

For more information, visit