Custom research methods developed by DuPont Pioneer corn researchers to breed Optimum AQUAmax products are being used to target other yield-robbing, environmental and disease stresses. During the testing of Optimum AQUAmax products — which are helping farmers grow corn in stressful, water-limited environments — a research program, called managed stress environment testing, was developed.
Managed stress environment testing is not a standard operating procedure; in fact, it is unique to Pioneer for evaluating new products for specific corn stresses. Currently, Pioneer researchers use managed stress environment testing to evaluate corn responses to abiotic stresses associated with limited nitrogen availability, to important corn diseases and to plant damage from strong windstorms. Traditionally, corn breeders relied on diverse environments in widely scattered research locations to get close to a real-world evaluation of overall hybrid performance.
In developing the research tactics for managed stress environment testing a cadre of methodologies — under the umbrella of the Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT) system — plays a central role. Acting as a filter to sort out specific environmental screens for disease, genetics, fertility and drought, the AYT system is used to test all phases of corn product development. Testing methods incorporate genetic mapping, marker assisted selection, whole genome modeling and precision phenotyping, among others.