Heredity and breeding
The diversity in plant and animal genetics and features can be manipulated by humans through artificial selection. This can focus on traits related to productivity for plant crops, resistance to environmental stress or illness, specific appearance or function.
The nutritional value of foods can be maximised in this way, alongside the yield for maximum product or growth that is environmentally sustainable.
For example, cotton has been bred for a larger boll while dairy cows have been bred for increased high quality milk production. In order to determine the traits that are present in different cultivars of plants, field trials are carried out in different environments. This is also used to assess GM (genetically modified) crops.
Designing these field trials requires a selection of fair treatment, using replicates and randomising treatment. Fair treatment refers to carrying out tests that apply equally to the test cultivars. For example, it would be fair to expose them all to a specific pest that is an issue in that location, but would be unfair to give them fertilisers that one cultivar is unable to metabolise.
Replicates involve having multiple sets of identical test crops to gather data from. This enables statistical analysis of the data by accounting for the inherent variability present between…