Resilient plants in resilient production systems

Strong increases in food production in coming decades are essential to feed a growing and changing global population. Global (climate and socio-economic) shocks and changes and ongoing environmental degradation however pose serious threats to food production and may result in ecological and socio-economic destabilization.

Plant sciences can contribute to avoiding these effects by contributing to: (i) development of plant types resistant to different combinations of (a)biotic stressors; (ii) the design of production systems able to withstand shocks and that are adapted to environmental change; (iii) assess consequences of changes in production systems for the functioning and ecosystem service provisioning of agro-ecological landscapes, and (iv) assess how climate change and demographic changes may create ecological instability and food insecurity at the regional scale. Very importantly, concepts developed in the agricultural setting should be linked to similar work in adjacent fields (e.g. social-, animal- and environmental sciences) to derive at integrated solutions.

Addressing these issues requires close collaboration between the different plant science fields as well as between plant sciences and related partners both within and beyond academia. Particularly important in this regard is to connect to farmers and especially involving the private sector (e.g. crop breeders, growers, farm technology firms and food companies).

In this project a task force of young scientists, with links to both DLO and the university achieves the aim through: (i) making an inventory of current work and interest in resilience within PSG and broker contacts and collaborations within the science group; (ii) making an assessment of potential (inter)national research partners; (iii) developing and executing a strategy to involve private partners in this research theme, which could be achieved through a workshop and/or a series of company visits. The essence is to have an open discussion about what different parties can mean for each other.