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12 July 2018 12:25:57 |Arable,Crops and Cereals,News,Produce

£1.2m UK project aims to breed crops resilient to climate change and pests


The project hopes to help safeguard the future of food production by increasing crop environmental durability

The project hopes to help safeguard the future of food production by increasing crop environmental durability

A £1.2 million UK project is aiming to breed crops that can cope with climate change, pests and disease.
The Defra funding seeks to help farmers breed disease and weather resilient vegetable crops.
The Harper Adams University Fresh Produce Research Centre (FPRC) and University of Warwick Crop Centre have been jointly awarded the five year research grant.
The work will help ensure that the UK, and the world, are protected against shortages in vegetables, such as lettuce, which are less resilient to weather fluctuations.
Extreme weather conditions can lead to both long and short-term environmental crop stresses, such as drought and waterlogging.
FPRC Director Dr Jim Monaghan, said: “Climate change and weather variability represent one of the greatest threats to the future of global agriculture and so to human nutrition.


“The recent shortage of rainfall and high temperatures in the UK have led to a number of reports of growers predicting shortages in vegetable and salad crops, including lettuce and broccoli, due to these crops’ growth becoming stunted in hot weather.”
Stressful environments
The team has already identified several different vegetable Brassica lines, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale which are more tolerant to high temperatures and stress.
This will lead to better crop growth in stressful environments. The project will also be looking at lettuce, carrot and onion plants.
Promising crop varieties highlighted in the study will then progress to conventional breeding programmes in order to generate new crop varieties with improved resilience to environmental stress and better performance under extreme weather conditions.
In this way, the team hopes to help safeguard the future of food production by increasing crop environmental durability.
“By looking for traits that breeders can use in commercial crops, we can help growers supply vegetables during periods of climate extremes, not only in the UK but also internationally,” added Dr Monaghan.


This research project forms part of the Vegetable Genetic Improvement Network (VeGIN), a long-term collaboration between Harper Adams and the University of Warwick.




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