Working on the crops of the future


From crops that give a high yield to plants that are resistant to drought, salinisation, diseases and other consequences of climate change. Rick van de Zedde and colleagues are conducting groundbreaking, multidisciplinary research on these topics, amongst others in the recently opened Netherlands Plant Eco-phenotyping Center (NPEC), a high-tech facility for targeted breeding and rapid screening of crops.

The world population will grow from 7.7 billion in 2021 to about 9.7 billion in 2050, according to the United Nations. “In order to feed so many mouths, we need to find plants that can be grown efficiently, provide nutritious components and are resistant to diseases, droughts and insect pests, for example,” says Rick van de Zedde, project manager at NPEC. “In addition, we have to set up the distribution chain in such a way that as little food as possible is wasted.”

A challenge that requires detailed insight into the properties of plants and that is exactly what NPEC – an initiative of Wageningen University & Research and Utrecht University – is all about. “We use high-tech, data-driven plant phenotyping methods to study agricultural crops from multiple angles,” says Van de Zedde. NPEC also functions as a think tank and meeting place for companies. In NPEC, large-scale automatic measurements are carried out on plants, and NPEC organises and stores the large amounts of data that are collected with modern measuring equipment.

Learn more: NPEC: working on the crops of the future.

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