Campus Team Hosts CROP-FS Consortium Workshop

The CROP-FS workshop group
The CROP-FS workshop group

A team of UMass Amherst natural and social scientists hosted the third workshop of the international Climate-Resiliency Open Partnership for Food Security (CROP-FS) Oct. 7-8 at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.

CROP-FS, which is sponsored by the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), aims to build a consortium of international researchers across a range of disciplines, with the goal of developing sustainable and climate-resilient crop systems to increase yield, thus improving global food security and safety.

At this year’s workshop, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Martina Nieswandt, associate vice chancellor for research and engagement, welcomed participants representing 14 universities and institutes from six continents.

Om Parkash Dhankher, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, leads the UMass Amherst CROP-FS team with Baoshan Xing, Stockbridge; Klaus Nusslein, microbiology, and Laurel Smith-Doerr, sociology and director of the Institute for Social Science Research.

The team of researchers is highly interdisciplinary in nature and includes expertise in soil chemistry, microbiology, plant physiology, genetics, biotechnology, and social sciences. This collaborative consortium is seeking opportunities for joint international funding from private, federal, and international funding sources to develop sustainable and climate resilient cropping systems with improved yields.

CROP-FS also facilitates joint peer-reviewed publications as well as the exchange of students, post-docs, and faculty among participating institutions.

The project’s strategic approaches include these objectives:

  • Explore the effect of climate change on soil matrix and employ soil amendments such as biochar and other organic matters to increase soil moisture content and carbon sequestration.
  • Study the effect of changing climate on microbial communities in agricultural soils and their impact on crop yields and strategies to improve rhizosphere activity.
  • Understand the physiological and molecular basis of adaptation to drought, heat, and heavy metal stresses likely resulting from climate change, and target promising candidate genes/enzymes to improve crops’ ability to produce better yield under multiple environmental stresses.
  • Direct Engagement of Social Sciences in climate resiliency for global food security

The first CROP-FS workshop was held at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom; the second at Zhejiang University in China.

To learn more about the CROP-FS consortium, email Dhankher at parkash@umass.edu.