It is well known that climate change will impact arable crop production across Europe in the 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.
The project will build on existing initiatives to develop modeling 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 modeling. 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.