Climate change, water shortage and insufficient agricultural available land are considered to be the main threats to crop production around the world.
Coupled with a predicted increase of the world’s population from 7 billion in 2011 to 9.3 billion in 2050, a significant increase in crop yield is required to provide the increasing population with safe affordable food.
However, natural resources, especially land, are limited and therefore higher yields and increased cropping intensity are needed to meet global crop production demands.
The availability of fresh water for agricultural activity is also one of the main limitations for crop production and although it is globally more than sufficient, it is unevenly distributed and even in rain-fed agricultural systems drought limits crop production.
Therefore, in order to feed the world, overcome climate change challenges, reduce crop losses caused by biotic and abiotic stresses, improve health, and achieve economic growth, radical new approaches are needed.
One such approach is plant factory systems supplemented with artificial lighting – these are a growing reality for year-round production of various crop species.
As part of the European Regional Development Funded Agri-Tech Cornwall project, we’re aiming to establish a plant factory unit at the University of Plymouth where we can develop LED lighting and control systems to facilitate the development of multi-tier, environmentally controlled growing facilities for urban and rural settings.