Adrian Newton

Climate change publications

Gregory, P.J., Johnson, S.N., Newton, A.C., Ingram, J.S.I. 2009. Integrating pests and pathogens into the climate change/food security debate. Journal of Experimental Botany 60(10), 2827-38.

Newton, A.C., Gregory, P.J. 2009. Climate Change Scenarios and Issues for Crops in Scotland. KnowledgeScotland.

Newton, A.C., Gregory, P.J. 2007 PDF file: Climate change research at SCRI (3.64 MB)

Ingram, J.S.I., Gregory, P.J., Izac, A.M. 2008. The role of agronomic research in climate change and food security policy. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 126, 4-12.

Gregory, P.J., Ingram, J.S.I. 2008. Climate change and the current “food crisis”. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources (in press).

Gregory, P.J., Johnson, S.N., Newton, A.C., Ingram, J.S.I. 2008. Climate change: the challenge for international agriculture. In: Halford, N., Jones, H.D., Lawlor, D. (Eds.) Effects of Climate Change on Plants: Implications for Agriculture. Aspects of Applied Biology 88, 1.

Research on adaptation

Durable disease resistance

Photograph of Potato late blight – one of the most problematic diseases for obtaining durable resistanceSCRI’s experience with long-standing issues such as root rots and viruses of soft fruit and late blight, viruses and nematodes on potato have been tackled with genetic solutions involving considerable investment in germplasm resources and genetic and molecular mechanism research leading to durable resistance solutions. By understanding the mechanisms involved we can use these resources to tackle the problems of new and emerging diseases.

Contact: Professor Paul Birch or Dr Lesley Torrance

Research on mitigation

Carbon transfer to soils

SCRI is a partner in the Scottish Alliance for Geosciences, Environment and Society consortium of Scottish Universities with significant environmental science research programmes in which it provides expertise in plant-mediated transfer of carbon to soils.

Contact: Professor David Hopkins

Figure 1: Carbon capture experiment

Figure 1: Carbon capture experiment showing effect of different slurry and municipal compost applications.

Research on impacts

Analysis of long-term climate records

Photograph showing climate change measuring at SCRI's on-site weather stationAt SCRI (Mylnefield, Invergowrie) climate records have been kept continuously for the last 50 years which include soil temperatures to several depths. Together with other long-term datasets worldwide, this gives us an opportunity to determine climate trends in Dundee and other regions. This analysis will be extended to examine crop yields and outbreaks of emerging diseases to quantify the existing effects of climate change on current practices.

Contact: Professor David Hopkins

Current climate change research

SCRI has a strong track record in responding to climate and environmental change, particularly in the development of appropriate management practices and the deployment of genetic resources to combat new pest and pathogen problems, and abiotic stresses. Specific areas of research include:

1. Research on impacts

2. Research on mitigation

3. Research on adaptation.

Each research area has a contact email address. For climate change research issues at SCRI in general please contact Dr Adrian C Newton.

Impact of climate change on Scottish cropping patterns

Photograph of a tractor working in the fieldWith our present knowledge, the climate trends outlined may result in less predictable crop protection requirements, more drought-stressed crops and greater unpredictability of yield. In particular, changes to harvest, sowing and spraying conditions may lead to greater uncertainty for winter crops.

Conversely, an earlier spring and higher CO2 concentrations could benefit some crops if water is not subsequently limiting. The disease spectrum is likely to change, as existing pathogen populations shift and new pathogens appear, as will consequent epidemiological factors such as variability, over-wintering, and general aetiology.

Relatively little is known about the potential impact of climate change on crop quality although it is known that the protein content of grain is highly susceptible to current variations in climate, affecting the type of foods that can be produced downstream.

Climate trends in Scotland

Photograph of a Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorderOver the next 75 years, if gaseous emissions continue unabated, the climate of northern Britain is likely to become up to:

  • 3.5°C warmer in summer
  • 50% drier in summer
  • 40% wetter in winter
  • 90% less snow
  • four weeks earlier spring
  • more extreme temperature and rainfall events
  • 90% higher CO2 levels
  • higher UV-B and reduced ozone.

Pragmatically, more extreme and variable weather, and changes in winter precipitation, will mean agronomic and cropping pattern changes too. The requirement for more resilient/adaptable crop genotypes with durable resistance coupled with functionally resilient soil and crop environments is, therefore, paramount.

Regional variations in the direction and magnitude of climate change will drive changes in cropping patterns with resultant socio-economic impacts on rural communities in particular. Developing crops able to not just tolerate but to advantageously exploit these changes, requires a comprehensive understanding of the crop genotype-environment interaction, where the environment includes the agronomy, ecology, abiotic and biotic stress and end-user requirements.

Policy relevance

Photograph of flooding in a fieldScottish agriculture needs to adapt and manage the risks associated with climate change and to make its contribution to mitigation in a range of ways. Our research programmes address several of these policy issues raised in the following:

Clone of Sustainability Research Platform at Balruddery Farm

A new experimental research platform is being established at Balruddery Farm for long-term studies on arable sustainability.Photograph of a poppy field

The overall goal is to test whether or not potential solutions for sustainable agriculture arising from the current RERAD workpackages, actually result in improved arable biodiversity, resilience, crop productivity and yield stability at a commercial, field-scale over at least four rotation cycles (>20 years).

To do this, we will design a sustainable cropping system based on existing research at SCRI that optimises inputs, yield, biodiversity and ecosystem processes. The effect of this ‘sustainable’ system on long-term trends in yield and system health will be tested by comparison with current commercial practice.

Syndicate content