What is Plant Breeding? [Video]

How to Breed Plants, As Told by Students is one of many 4-6 minute short films funded by the UC Global Food Initiative (GFI) to teach the public and the UC community about sustainable agriculture. Unlike most educational videos produced by the UC system, these films are student-directed. Our top priority is to educate viewers about sustainable agricultural practices and how adopting these practices could lead to real positive change. We do this by introducing the basic principles of a sustainable agricultural practice and demonstrating how this practice has been adopted by a student community. Through this model of showing-by-doing, we hope to inspire our viewers to be optimistic and proactive about making global food security a reality.

This particular video follows an on-going pepper breeding project that was started 5 years ago by graduate student Jorge Berny on the UCD Student Organic Farm. We are continuing our work on this breeding project with funding from the USDA’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative. Our ultimate goal is to breed a new pepper variety, the Jalapeño Popper, which is locally adapted to the growing conditions of an organic farming system. We hope to demonstrate that plant breeding is participatory: students and farmers alike can develop new varieties to suit their needs, not just seed companies. Improving a crop’s adaptation to specific growing environments is an essential part of sustainable agriculture: the better a plant variety grows in a particular farming system, the fewer inputs (i.e. fertilizer, pesticides, water, etc.) are needed to maintain high crop yields.