Trevor Hodkinson & Matt Saunders
The FAO has estimated that global food production needs to increase by 70% by 2050
to feed a human population of 9.6 billion. It will be difficult to achieve this level of production,
given the agricultural land and freshwater requirements this will demand. Degraded ecosystems, pest problems and climate change all challenge global and local production goals.
“By working with nature, using smart production systems, we can ensure sustainable food production.”
As an inter-disciplinary research team, we are developing smart agricultural technology and
approaches to manage agricultural systems to maximise productivity, improve environmental
conditions and influence consumer behaviour.
For example we are developing patented strains and seed delivery systems for endophytes (naturally occurring microbes that enhance crop growth and survival) to reduce agricultural inputs and improve yields and sustainability of farming systems.
Key discoveries to date:
- Hyper-diversity in endophytes recovered from wild Irish relatives of barley
- Yield increases and stress resistance recorded over 3 seasons.
- Yields maintained with use of endophytes despite 50% decrease in fertiliser input.
- Yield increased over 2 t/ha for some plots with use of endophytes and grain yield increases of up to 127% compared to controls.