Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsEnvironmental conditions play a key role in defining the function and distribution of plants. Changes in conditions as a result of climate change is known to have negative consequences for plant health. Many studies of cropping systems have estimated impacts of observed climate changes on crop yields over the last half century. Based on these studies, climate trends have negatively affected wheat and maize production for many regions, whilst the effects on rice and soybean yields have been small. There is exceptions in some high-latitude regions such as northeast China or the United Kingdom where warming has actually benefited crop production, as it is still within the optimum ranges for production.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 secondsClimate change induced pests, disease, and weeds are important factors in the growth rate of crops. Increasing temperatures and precipitation allow pests to have improved winter survival, increased growth, enlarged geographical range, increased infectivity, and a competitive edge. In parallel, the plants are rooted in the ground and cannot move. As the conditions become unfavorable, the plant endures stress and reduced resiliency. Moreover, extreme weather conditions weaken plants and make them more susceptible to pests. Temperatures outside of the favorable range are damaging and potentially lethal to crops. Evaluating the threats which pathogens will pose in the coming decades is challenging, as there is many interactions which must be considered.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 secondsThis includes climatic factors such as temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, frequency, and intensity of extreme weather events, and atmospheric carbon dioxide, coupled with the crops that are cultivated and the pests and pathogens, which attack these hosts in a specific region. Ultimately, for the major crops, including wheat, rice, and maize in tropical and temperate regions, climate change without adaption will negatively impact production. An overall increase in global plant disease is expected.

Climate Change and its Impact on Plant Health

Environmental conditions play a key role in defining the function and distribution of plants. Similar to soil and water health, changes in conditions as a result of climate change is known to have negative consequences for plant health.

Climate change-induced pests, diseases and weeds are important factors in the growth rate of crops. Increasing temperatures and precipitation allow pests to have improved winter survival, increased growth, enlarged geographical range, increased infectivity and a competitive edge. In parallel, the plants are rooted in the ground and cannot move. As the conditions become unfavourable, the plant endures stress and reduced resiliency. Moreover, extreme weather conditions weaken plants and make them more susceptible to pests. Temperatures outside of the favorable range are damaging and potentially lethal to crops.

Evaluating the threats which pathogens will pose in the coming decades is challenging as there is many interactions which must be considered. This includes climatic factors (such as temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and atmospheric carbon dioxide) coupled with the crops that are cultivated and the pests and pathogens which attack these hosts in a specific region.

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This video is from the free online course:

Farm to Fork: Sustainable Food Production in a Changing Environment

EIT Food