Scientists are engaged in a race against time to breed staple crops that can both survive climate change and yield bigger harvests. Their aim is to feed a growing population in a warming world.
The method used for centuries of growing one crop a year in variable weather conditions and then selecting the seeds from the best plants is no longer viable in fast-changing climatic conditions. Scientists are concerned that for some years there have been few improvements in yields of grain.
A new system called speed breeding, designed to grow six crops a year, has been developed in glasshouses to accelerate the process. Using LED lighting to aid photosynthesis, intensive regimes allow the plants to grow for 22 hours a day. This new form of lighting is a lot cheaper and also more efficient than using the old sodium vapour lamps that produced too much heat and not enough light.
Among the crops that can now be grown up to six generations a year are wheat, barley, peas and chickpeas. Canola, a form of rapeseed, can achieve four cycles.Source: theguardian.com