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Global experts on one of the last frontiers of agricultural and ecological sciences will congregate in Dundee this week (26-29 June) to discuss how their research could lead to sustainable increases in crop productivity and more effective use of land resources.
More than 300 scientists with expertise in plant roots will attend the International Society of Root Research (ISRR) four-day conference, organised by the James Hutton Institute, where topics to be discussed include speeding up delivery of root system improvements to farmers in order to increase crop productivity.
ISRR President Professor Peter Gregory, former chief executive of the Scottish Crop Research Institute and now chief executive of East Malling Research, admitted root research had been a relatively neglected area of science and researchers were only just beginning to understand how roots worked because scientists finally had the tools to investigate them fully.
He added: “The simple reason more work hasn’t been undertaken on roots is because they are hidden while you can see the rest of the plant so it’s easy to measure and study it. But now we are able to employ new techniques similar to body scanning which enable us to see and research the roots in the soil.
“We are currently looking at trees, cereals, vegetables and grasses - indeed all plant roots - and investigating how we can make them perform better.”
Professor Gregory, who is also Professor of Global Food Security at Reading University, added that an important motivation was to increase yields for farmers, particularly in countries in the developing world which were short of water and nutrients.
“We are also looking at the effects of changing climates on roots and their ability to take carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in soils,” he said.
Notes to editors: The International Society of Root Research "Roots to the Future" conference takes place at the University of Dundee from 26-29 June. Nearly 350 delegates from 38 countries will attend and there will be more than 100 oral presentations and 250 poster presentations. There will be a visit to the James Hutton Institute at Invergowrie and a talk from the head greenkeeper at the Old Course, St Andrews. The social programme includes a civic reception at Discovery Point, a tour of Verdant Works and a conference dinner at the Fairmont St Andrews hotel. More information is on the ISRR 2012 event page.
More information from: Lorraine Wakefield, Content Manager, The James Hutton Institute, Tel: 01382 568749 (direct) or 0844 928 5428 (switchboard) or Phil Taylor, Head of Communications, Tel: 0844 928 5428 or Mobile: 07834 882 589.
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