The world's population is still growing and cultivatable land is not. What can be done to feed the masses?
"Warmer temperatures have extended growth seasons in some areas — and brought drought and pests to others."
"But plant breeding is a slow process. Developing new kinds of crops — higher yield, more nutritious, drought- and disease-resistant — can take a decade or more using traditional breeding techniques. So plant breeders are working on quickening the pace."
In Australia they are using modern technology to speed things up by controlling light and temperature to grow plants faster so they can harvest quickly and keep modifying the seeds. Lee Hickey, a plant geneticist in Queensland is working on changes.
"Researchers have also adopted new genetic techniques to optimize flowering times and make plants more resistant to the rigors of a warming planet. Unlike older crossbreeding and crop modification techniques, newer tools like Crispr allow scientists to snip out portions of the plant’s own DNA that may make it vulnerable to disease. Dr. Hickey and his team are working on adding Crispr machinery directly into barley and sorghum saplings, in order to modify the plants’ genes while simultaneously speed breeding them."
They are trying to make sure that these changes benefit farmers in developing countries also.
"Most speed breeding can be set up with minimum skill, and, in countries where electricity and other resources may be lacking, it can be done using solar panels to power cheap LEDs. Speed breeding can also be combined with gene editing and genomic prediction."
“One technology alone is not going to solve our problems,” Dr. Hickey said. “We’re going to need all the tools in the shed.”"