The earth’s climate is going through a phase of relatively rapid change, with a global increase in temperature of 0.6oC already being measurable since the 1970s. All current climate change scenarios suggest that global temperatures will continue to increase at a rapid rate. These changes are already impacting on environment factors which are well described drivers sustaining crop production, for example, soil water availability.

The impacts that the environment has on plant growth, development and yield have been a key feature in NIAB EMR’s science strategy since its inception. Our long-term involvement helps in the understanding of how climate drives production and plant quality. This knowledge can then be used to develop practical tools to facilitate and improve the management of crops, for example, in developing forecasting models linked to the incidence of pest and disease outbreaks. Further work has enabled us to provide government, retailers and industry with effective climate change mitigation and risk avoidanceadvice for some key horticultural crops.

NIAB EMR’s wider environment-related sciences include work on non-native species, both pests and diseases, which are impacting on both commercial crops and natural habitat situations. NIAB EMR’s water-use efficiency programme similarly covers a wide range of protected and outdoor fruit and vegetable crops both in the UK and overseas.

We view the changes predicted as positive challenges to science and our aspirations are to find solutions, by altering current practice, developing new approaches and through the establishment and support of novel opportunities.

Contact: Mark Else

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