Resurrecting Ancient Crops to Deal with Climate Change

Farmers who grow single crops are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but now researchers are resurrecting ancient crop varieties to encourage diversity and offset the risks of extreme weather.

Intensively growing single crops for commercial purposes is the most common farming practice in Europe. These so-called cash crops include corn and wheat and they depend on stable weather to get a good harvest.

'With climate change we will see much more drought in different places of the world, especially in the Mediterranean region, and large parts of Africa,' said Professor Sven-Erik Jacobsen from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. 'Even in north Europe we will see more drought and heavier rainfalls.'

An unusually hot or wet period could devastate harvests of traditional crops, but species originating in warmer climates could serve as a solution to European farmers under threat.

'These crops could be the answer to the climate change effects that we will experience more and more,' said Prof. Jacobsen, who is the project coordinator of PROTEIN2FOOD, an EU-funded project that's exploring ancient crops and legumes to help make modern agriculture more sustainable.

https://phys.org/news/2017-05-ancient-crops-counteract-climate-effects.html

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