Solutions to multiple and combined stresses in crop production
Water, soil quality and nutrients are key determinants of plant growth and crop productivity. With supplies of these inputs becoming increasingly variable and scarce, improvements in water use efficiency (WUE) and nutrient use efficiency (NUE) are of particular importance for both plant breeding and crop management, as are issues of yield stability.
Proposals will lay the ground for a better understanding and management of highly dynamic processes of combined abiotic variations and their effects on crops. More specifically, activities will establish how combined water and nutrient stresses act upon plants taking into account complex interactions between plants/roots, soils and below ground biodiversity.
Knowledge of these basic processes should be linked to overall system resource- use efficiency in crops on the basis of a thorough understanding of the interplay between crop genetics, crop management and the environment.
Findings will be applied to the development and testing of strategies and tools for soil, water and crop management. Also, they will serve to identify (combinations of) above- and below-ground traits associated with improved plant performance under restricted water and nutrient availability to develop crop breeding strategies and tools.
Activities will enhance our capacity to deal with multiple abiotic stresses in cropping systems.
Outputs and results will help to increase the resilience of crop production in more variable environments and ultimately secure productivity. They will also contribute to optimising water use and reducing nutrient losses in agricultural systems, thereby also reducing the environmental impact of agricultural activities, in particular with regard to water quality.