Developing resilience and tolerance of crop resource use efficiency to climate change and air pollution
It is well known that climate change will impact arable crop production across Europe in coming decades. We also know that air pollution is already having substantial impacts on crop productivity causing yield losses of between 10 and 15% on average across Europe for sensitive staple crops such as wheat. What is unclear is how these stresses will combine to impact crop growth, development and yield through influences on important crop resource use efficiencies such as radiation, water and nutrient use. Within this project we will develop a new generation of process based crop models to better understand the mechanisms, and hence impacts, of these multiple stresses both for the current day and future 2050 climates. This will allow us to identify the magnitude, frequency and geographical distribution of the combined stresses most likely to limit resource use efficiency and hence crop productivity. This will be important since, in spite of international efforts to reduce emissions, poor air quality in Europe is currently set to continue to substantially impact crop yields until at least 2050 and GHG emissions are still on course to see large changes in climate over the coming decades.
This project focusses on four goals. Firstly, to define which multi-stress combinations (e.g. pollution (aerosol and ozone), drought, high temperatures, low soil fertility) are most likely to adversely affect crop resource use efficiency and ultimately crop growth, development and yield. Secondly, to describe the frequency, magnitude and geographical distribution of the most damaging of these multi-stress combinations and where they are most likely to occur across Europe both for the current day as well as the future (2050). Thirdly, to use this information to identify new plant traits that could be bred for, and new crop management practices that could be employed by farmers, to help adapt to the stresses resulting from air pollution and climate change conditions. Finally, through conducting this research in partnership with a variety of stakeholders, to understand the context within which these threats manifest themselves so as to identify appropriate, realistic and feasible solutions for their remediation. The project will build on existing initiatives to develop modelling approaches; and will conduct this research in close dialogue with policy and sector stakeholders that are partners of our consortium of eight world-leading expert groups skilled in climate change and air pollution in relation to experimental and crop modelling. Ultimately, this project will target an increase in the sustainability of agriculture across Europe and a reduction in the threats to crop resource use efficiency from both current and future climate change and air pollution stress.
Prof Lisa Emberson
SEI York Environment, SEI York, UK
Dr Jana Sillmann
Dr Maurits Van den Berg
JRC, Directorate Sustainable Resources, Unit D.5 (Food Security), ITALY
Prof Frank Ewert
University of Bonn, INRES Crop Science, GERMANY
Prof Marcello Donatelli
Dr Ionica Circiu
Dr Alexandru Dumitrescu
National Meteorological Administration Climatology, ROMANIA
Dr Victoria Bermejo
CIEMAT, Environmental Department, SPAIN