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Title: Improving the sustainability of water use in baby leaf salad cropping systems
Author: Smith, Hazel
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 0027
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2013
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Future food security is under threat from both climate change and human population growth. Water scarcity is a major limitation to crop production worldwide and the effects of climate change are likely to exacerbate this. Furthermore, an ever increasing human population is driving our demand for food, fuel and fibre. In combination, climate change and population growth, and their interaction, creates a complex problem with regards to improving plant productivity with which to maintain food security. If crop production can be made more efficient, agricultural intensification can be achieved without the need to expand the world’s cropped area, which is unfeasible. Leafy salad crops are of significant nutritional value and are eaten globally, thus making them an exciting target for improving resource use efficiency in agriculture. This research focuses on water as a resource and takes two complementary approaches. Firstly, to improve the crop genetically so it produces more ‘crop per drop’ without a detrimental impact on yield. Secondly, the aim was to improve irrigation management in a commercial setting in order to use water more efficiently while attaining optimal crop yield and quality. Candidate SNPs within the lettuce genome have been elucidated which control both fresh weight and water use efficiency and these can now be used to inform a marker assisted selection breeding program. This breeding will produce a more water use efficient lettuce crop, which is not compromised in its ability to produce biomass, while also retaining the favoured traits of currently used commercial crops. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated using thermal imagery that water savings of almost 20% can be made in a commercial setting without any impact on crop yield or quality. The water savings which we have provided, if extended commercially, will confer significant savings in terms of water, waste and money.
Supervisor: Taylor, Gail Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GE Environmental Sciences ; S Agriculture (General)