Aug 10, 2012
Global warming could benefit potato industryBack
Potato Pathology Programme|Ireland|South Africa|The Netherlands|University Of Pretoria|Wageningen University|Western Cape|Jacquie Van Der Waals
© Reuse this
She says potatoes appear to be the only crop which might thrive amid increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Most crops are negatively affected, or not affected at all by an increase in CO2 emissions, but more potatoes are produced when the crop is faced with higher CO2 emissions.
“As a result, we actually think the potato will [likely] become one of the top three staple crops in the world. “Currently, the top three staple crops are maize, wheat and rice, with potatoes at number four, but the current top three staples will be unaffected or negatively affected by the increase in CO2 emissions,” says Van der Waals.
However, she warns about the risk of some potato diseases increasing in intensity as a result of rising temperatures. The diseases would need to be overcome first to ensure the potato industry’s success.
The UP’s Potato Pathology Programme initiated a climate change project last year, in collaboration with other researchers at UP and the Wageningen University and Research Centre, in the Netherlands. Its aim was to model South Africa’s climate between 1960 and the present, and to determine how it is likely to change up to 2050, as well as the likely impact of climate change on potato diseases.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research provided modelled weather forecasts on which the study was based.
The results of the study were compiled over the past three to four months and will be published in September.
“We measured temperature and rainfall patterns to determine the likely changes in intensity of the five most common potato diseases and pests in South Africa,” Van der Waals explains.
The study concluded that South Africa’s temperature would rise by between 1.5 °C and 2 °C by 2050 in the inland regions, while the coastal areas will not warm as rapidly, owing to temperature regulation by the ocean.
In addition, it was determined that the total amount of rainfall will not drastically change, but rainfall patterns, however, will change with regard to timeframe and volume.
“The study analysed late blight, early blight, Pectobacterium and Dickeya, root knot nematodes and aphids (as vectors of Potato Virus Y) to determine whether they are likely to increase or decrease as a result of global warming. “This will enable potato farmers to adapt their management strategies accordingly,” Van der Waals states.
The five diseases were modelled in four different climates in three different regions – the Sandveld, in the Western Cape, with its dry summers and wet winters; the Limpopo area, with its dry winters; and the eastern Free State, with its wet summers.
Van der Waals says the researchers determined that the only disease not likely to increase in intensity is late blight – a devastating disease that was responsible for the Irish Famine between 1845 and 1852.
“The occurrence of late blight is likely to decrease in the eastern Free State because of the change in rainfall patterns and a rise in temperature, as it is a pathogen that likes cool weather conditions,” she points out.
However, the other four diseases are likely to increase in intensity, as the pathogens respond to warm conditions.
“We have already started to see an increase in the occurrence of these diseases over the past ten years. Except for late blight, and in terms of all of the diseases, global warming is not a good scenario for the agriculture industry,” Van der Waals stresses.
Potato diseases can have a devastating impact on farmers, as they either affect the foliage of the plants, which affects their ability to photosynthesise, or the appearance of the tubers, which reduces the market value of the produce.
“Researchers have to find ways to manage and control the diseases to increase the plants’ resistance to them and aid farmers in producing better crops,” says Van der Waals.
The UP’s Potato Pathology Programme focuses on research management strategies to help control the potential increase in these diseases and urges farmers to look at either planting resistant cultivars or changing their management options to combat early blight, Pectobacterium and Dickeya, nematodes and aphids.
“Methods to combat the effects of global warming will not put greater financial pressure on farmers, as they will only need to employ a paradigm shift,” she concludes.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other Climate Change News
Article contains comments
Article contains comments
Updated 32 minutes ago Major changes have been announced at PSA Peugeot Citroën as it continues the fight to return to profitability and increase sales. It is especially the overseas markets that have taken a pummelling for the French manufacturer at the beginning of 2014, with the...
Updated 34 minutes ago Two more Northern Cape solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, Droogfontein Solar Power and De Aar Solar Power, have achieved commercial operations and will be formally inaugurated in mid May. Both projects are majority owned by independent power producer Globeleq and both...
Updated 3 hours ago More than 600 engineering students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) have come up with suggestions for what do with the city's infamous unfinished Foreshore freeway, together with the Foreshore precinct. They range from demolishing the unfinished freeway to...
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2014: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2014 report provides an overview of the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon steel and stainless...
Projects in Progress 2014 - First Edition (PDF Report)
This publication contains insight into progress at the delayed Medupi and Kusile coal-fired projects, in Mpumalanga and Limpopo respectively, as well as at the Ingula pumped-storage scheme, which is under construction on the border between the Free State and...
Automotive 2014: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
The report provides insight into the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local construction demand, geographic diversification, competition within the sector, corporate activity, skills, safety, environmental considerations and the challenges...
Construction 2014: A review of South Africa's construction sector (PDF Report)
Construction data released during 2013 hints at a halt to the decline in the industry during the last few years, with some commentators averring that the industry could be poised for recovery. However, others have urged caution, noting that the prospects for a...
Electricity 2014: A Review of South Africa's Electricity Sector (PDF Report)
This report provides an overview of the state of electricity generation and transmission in South Africa and examines electricity planning, investment in generation capacity, electricity tariffs, the role of independent power producers and demand-focused initiatives,...
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
This Week's Magazine
Updated 3 hours ago The power and water sector will come together in May to discuss challenges and celebrate successes at the annual African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa in Cape Town. More than 5 000 power and water professionals, including utility heads from Nigeria, Uganda,...
There is enough water in South Africa to supply communities and the economy, even if some activities may be constrained, such as agriculture in the Limpopo, says National Planning Commission commissioner Mike Muller. Muller was also the director-general from 1997...
South African antenna designer and producer Poynting and provider of professional products, system integration and implementation and commissioning services for the broadcast and telecommunications markets in South Africa, African Union Communications (Aucom),...
Industrial automation giant Festo has been displaying some of the its ongoing research projects and latest automation developments and products at the Hannover industrial fair from April 7 to 11, as part of its Integrated Automation – The Next Steps theme. The...
South African retail companies are responding to the way in which e-commerce is changing their engagement model with customers by improving customer engagement channels and order fulfilment intelligence, says industrial and retail software company JDA Europe, Middle...