Special Seminar on April 26 – Climate change and crop productivity

Raja Reddy

Join the Nebraska Water Center on Friday, April 26, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. for a seminar presentation from a visiting scholar. This seminar will take place in the 2nd floor boardroom at the Nebraska Innovation Campus (2021 Transformation Drive, Lincoln, NE 68588).  This seminar will also be available on Zoom.


Climate Change and Crop Productivity: Challenges and Opportunities

Dr. K. Raja Reddy, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University

10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Today's world faces many challenges in producing adequate food, fiber, feed, industrial products, and ecosystem services for 8 billion people. With nearly 76 million people added every year, we must develop agricultural food production and ecosystem goods and services to meet the future population of over 8 billion by 2025 and more than 9.7 billion by 2050. Added to these stresses is a threat of global climate change resulting from increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and depletion of the ozone layer assumed due to anthropogenic activities. Agriculture production and productivity are highly sensitive to changes in climate and weather conditions. Therefore, changes in regional and global climate, particularly climatic variability, have been implicated in affecting local and international food, fiber and forest production, and ecosystem goods and services. Rapid climate changes provide challenges for breeders to develop new cultivars to sustain such harsh conditions. 

Over 30 years, a series of experiments have been conducted in sunlit plant growth chambers to study the impacts of climate change factors (atmospheric CO2, temperature, drought, nutrients, UV-B radiation) in several crops, including native rangeland grass species.  Our studies have shown that more carbon was fixed in high-CO2-grown plants at all levels of water and nutrient-deficient conditions and across a wide range of temperatures, water regimes, and UV-B levels. Furthermore, developmental events such as flowering crop maturity and leaf initiation were relatively insensitive to high-CO2, UV-B, or nutrients and were mostly temperature-dependent. Since crop growth in indeterminate crops such as cotton is very plastic, additional carbon available in a high-CO2 environment favors more vegetative and reproductive development under optimal conditions. However, crop reproductive processes were susceptible to both higher and extreme climatic conditions predicted in the future climate (higher and more frequent episodes of temperatures and UV-B radiation). Elevated CO2 did not ameliorate the damaging effects of either higher temperatures or UV-B radiation on processes related to crop yield. More recently, we have been exploring genotype-by-environment interactions to understand the variability and assist breeders in selecting the best lines suited to a changing climate in their breeding programs. We need tools and technologies from all fronts to meet the increased populations' future goods and services.

Dr. K. Raja Reddy received all his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, India, in 1975, 1977, and 1984.  He joined the Plant and Soil Sciences Department at Mississippi State in 1988 and became a Research Professor in 1992. He was named a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor in 2021.

Dr. Reddy’s research interests include the impact of anthropogenic climate change, remote sensing, and crop modeling applications on agricultural resource management through the lens of environmental plant physiology. He has over 33 years of research experience at Mississippi State and manages the state-of-the-art sunlit plant growth chambers known as Soil-Plant-Atmosphere-Research (SPAR, https://www.spar.msstate.edu). He is responsible for and credited with many critical discoveries across multiple facets of agriculture. His research includes the impact of climate change on crop physiology, growth, and development of several outstanding foods, fiber, and native grassland and forage crops of global importance - cotton, soybean, rice, corn, sorghum, sweet potato, switchgrass, Bahiagrass, many horticultural crops, and domain expertise areas of remote sensing and stress physiology, and crop model applications.

The Zoom link is available at https://unl.zoom.us/j/95367454423.