At the recent National Ploughing Championships, RTÉ hosted panel discussions with a different meteorologist and agri scientist each day. Dr. Marcel Jansen (Plant Stress group, UCC) took part in one of these open panel discussions, together with Dr. Klara Finkele, a meteorologist from MetEireann. The event was hosted by Nuala Carey of RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the national broadcaster), and organised by SFI (Science Foundation Ireland).
The National Ploughing Championship, often called “The Ploughing” for short, took place this year from 20-22 September in Screggan, Co. Offaly. It is Europe’s largest Outdoor Exhibition and Agricultural Trade Show with a total of 283.000 visitors (2016) across three days. And yes, competitions are held in several categories for the best furrows ploughed, but much more besides.
The panel discussed, amongst others, weather forecasts, changes in climate and their impacts on crops.
Dr. Jansen highlighted how environmental stress conditions are not necessarily undesirable, but are sometimes exploited to generate a better quality crop. This is of benefit to both growers and consumers. As an example, Dr. Jansen told the interested public how UV radiation can be used for crop improvement. He then went on to explain how the rapid development of LEDs is leading to a revolution for the protected crops industry.
The panel also discussed uptake by plants of metals such as zinc, and how such zinc-enrichment may help address the problem of zinc deficiencies in people. At the moment a substantial part of the world population is suffering from zinc deficiencies, which is an essential element for human health.