Improving the efficacy and accuracy of European crop variety testing and decision-making

Published Date
November 17, 2019
Published by
ICARDA Communication Team

InnoVar will develop next generation plant variety testing by building tools and models that augment current practices capitalising on advances in genomics, phenomics, imaging technologies and machine learning. The InnoVar database, populated with historical and de novo genotypic, phenotypic and environmental data will facilitate model development and evaluation for revision of DUS and VCU processes.

Innovative ways to measure DUS characters will be evaluated. VCU evaluation procedures will be revised and shaped to comprehensively address variability in growing conditions, stresses and management approaches. Processes for identifying optimally-adapted varieties and delivering information to farmers, end-users and stakeholders will be put in place.

This will include the creation of the High Performance Low Risk (HPLR) varieties as a concept and a brand potentially leading to harmonisation of VCU testing across the EU. InnoVar will focus on wheat initially, and apply the InnoVar approach to other major crops. Developments and advances achieved will also influence breeding processes.

This project will take variety information to the next level in four ways:

  1. providing information on new DUS and VCU characters and identifying synergies;
  2. developing varieties with proven suitability for the various growing scenarios;
  3. making this information available to farmers throughout the EU, and
  4. disseminating the information in readily accessible and easily updated digital formats. Cutting-edge science will be integrated with tried and tested DUS and VCU processes to deliver an invigorated EU variety evaluation system capable of delivering increasingly productive and more sustainable cropping to meet the challenges arising from population growth, food security and climate change.



The kick-off meeting of the H2020 project InnoVar was held October 16th, 17th and 18th in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The project’s coordinator AFBI hosted the meeting.

InnoVar is a 4,5 years project under the Horizon 2020 SFS-29-2018 call.

The project’s consortium includes 21 partners across Europe as well as ICARDA. Outputs and impacts of the project include:

  • Support the introduction of new varieties that are “fit for purpose”, providing stable and higher yields;
  • Help introduce plant traits that respond to new challenges and demands in the conventional and organic sectors;
  • Increase the economic return of growers;
  • Develop experimental designs, methods and tools to improve performance testing of new varieties for their sustainability profile;
  • Support activities of the network of European and national plant variety examination offices;
  • Improve information and recommendations on variety performance available to growers.