Suitability of drought tolerance indices for selecting alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) genotypes under organic farming in Austria


Seed and Plant Improvement Institute, Karaj, Iran.


In eastern Austria, alfalfa is usually grown as a rainfed crop in crop rotations in organic farming systems, where yearto- year rainfall fluctuations cause different levels of drought stress. To identify the suitability of different alfalfa genotypes and drought tolerance indices, 18 contrasting alfalfa genotypes were evaluated under irrigated and rainfed conditions at the research station of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria, during 2006-08. The first study year (2006) was considered as the establishment year. Five drought tolerance selection indices were estimated based on shoot dry matter, total biomass yield and biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) data. The correlation between irrigated and rainfed performances increased (from r=-0.17 to 0.56) with decreasing stress intensity from the first to the second year. Genotypes Sitel, Plato ZS, Vlasta and NS-Banat were the best genotypes based on their performance under both conditions. Drought tolerance selection indices TOL and SSI showed high correlations (r = 0.32
to 0.81) only with rainfed performance, and SSI was the index that best identified genotypes with high yield potential under rainfed conditions. Indices STI and GMP were the ones that best identified genotypes with high performance under both conditions.