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Evaluating the effect of agronomic management practices on the performance of differing spelt (Triticum spelta) cultivars in contrasting environments

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Amelia Magistrali, Dr Leo RempelosORCiD, Gillian Butler, Dr Paul BilsborrowORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Spelt (Triticum spelta) is an ancient wheat which is attracting renewed interest with an increasing demand for wholegrains and ancient cereals in the diet.This study evaluates the yield and quality performance of four contrasting European spelt varieties (both landraces and modern cultivars) grown with different fertiliser types (cattle slurry, farm yard manure, and biogas digestate in comparison with mineral N) and rates (50 and 100 kg N ha-1) in contrasting environments, i.e. the UK and CZ in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Grain yield was similar in both seasons but was greater in CZ than the UK (4.9 vs 3.2 t ha-1) which was also supported by a much greater harvest index (HI) of 40.4 vs 31.3% and all yield components measured. The yield differences were largely related to differences in climate and disease levels i.e. leaf blotch (S. tritici) and yellow rust (Puccinia striiformis) which were much greater in the UK. Clear varietal differences were evident between the two sites especially in the susceptibility to yellow rust. Leaf chlorophyll data showed that the uptake efficiency of the biogas digestate was similar to that of mineral N resulting in greater grain yield when averaged across sites and seasons. Significantly lower levels of yellow rust were observed under the biogas digestate treatment in the UK relative to the other fertiliser types. Clear genotype (G) x environment (E) interactions show the benefits of selecting spelt varieties suited to particular environments. Although yields of spelt are lower than common wheat the crop benefits from lower inputs of fertiliser and the use of biogas digestate where available can provide a clear opportunity for organic and reduced input growers. The ability of the crop to produce a high grain protein content from low levels of fertiliser input shows the clear potential of spelt production systems whereby wheat in the UK struggles to achieve13% protein from much greater rates of N fertiliser.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Magistrali A, Vavera R, Janovska D, Rempelos L, Cakmak I, Leifert C, Grausgruber H, Butler G, Wilkinson A, Bilsborrow P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Field Crops Research

Year: 2020

Volume: 255

Print publication date: 15/09/2020

Online publication date: 25/06/2020

Acceptance date: 29/05/2020

Date deposited: 06/07/2020

ISSN (print): 0378-4290

ISSN (electronic): 1872-6852

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.fcr.2020.107869


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