Introduction

Agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate change and it is likely that in fifty years’ time the crops we currently grow in the UK will no longer be viable to meet consumer demand. Agriculture also has important socio-economic implications for food sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions.

We urgently need to begin investigating alternative strategies for agriculture that will require bringing together the best available models for the key aspects of the most important UK arable crops. This project will pioneer the development of methodology that will integrate data from plant science, hydrology, soil science, insect population dynamics, economics, consumer behaviour and climate models to form an integrated national crop modelling framework to support new policy or management practices, by offering simulations of their impact under different climate change scenarios.

This project is supported entirely by public funds, through Wave 1 of the UK Research and Innovation Strategic Priorities Fund, under EPSRC Grant EP/T001569/1.

Explaining the science

The project combines multidisciplinary expertise from across the Turing community and external partners covering a variety of areas including agriculture, environmental science, policy, meteorology, and ecology. Agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate change, with important socio-economic implications for food sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions. In 50 years time it is likely that the crops we currently grow in the UK will no longer be viable to meet consumer demand, due to changes in the climate. We urgently need to begin investigating alternative agricultural models, based on multiple sources of data. We can begin to model this by bringing together data from plant science, hydrology, soil science, insect population dynamics, economics, consumer behaviour and climate models to form an integrated national crop modelling framework. Bringing together the best available models describing the key aspects of agriculture for the most important UK arable crops will support new policy or management practices, by offering simulations of their impact under different climate change scenarios. Such a framework will accommodate a number of different models:

  • Future climate models predicting weather at appropriate spatial scales.
  • Productivity models for the major crops in the UK arable rotation.
  • Population dynamic and invasiveness models for their associated pests and diseases.
  • Soil function and chemistry models for crop growth and GHG emissions.
  • Water availability/hydrology models for UK agricultural catchments.
  • Genetic analysis of phenotypic response to climate change.

The project will also evaluate changing public attitudes and consumption in relation to perceptions of environmental change, sustainability, and the economics of agricultural production.

Project aims

To build an integrated national crop modelling framework, using currently available models and data to allow the testing and development of new policies or management practices prior to implementation. This modelling framework will support interventions aimed at ensuring the UK’s continued food security.

Organisers

Professor Jonathan Rowe

AI for Science and Government Programme Chair, Programme Director for Data Science for Science, and Turing Fellow

Researchers and collaborators

Funders

Collaborators