About this Research Topic
Current global population growth and its associated increasing demands on farming, together with the threat of climate change and the need for better environmental protection, pose formidable challenges for the agriculture of the future. Crop productivity is already reaching high capacity but may have to increase perhaps by as much as 100% to sustain a world population of nearly 10 billion people by 2050. These global challenges are also not evenly distributed: while developed countries face the needs derived from an aging population, highly urbanized areas and stagnation of cultivated land, developing ones are blooming in terms of population growth, the building of infrastructures and the use of land for agriculture. Underdeveloped countries, on the other hand, also face demographic growth, but generally, lack the modern infrastructures and efficient farming practices required for expansion of agricultural production. The agriculture of the future will have to sustain a world population with different needs and opportunities, whilst at the same time reducing its environmental impact in the general upheaval of climatic conditions.
To achieve this, advances at the frontiers of plant science will become essential. These include increasing the use of plants for the production of novel materials, complex chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biologics, and bioenergy, as well as understanding how to improve our farming practices following the basic concepts of circular economy. Next generation agriculture will someway shape our future. It will take advantage of Smart and Molecular Farming and Artificial Intelligence, it will move into the cities and go vertical, occur in extreme environments, trying even to support the human conquest of the extraterrestrial space.
This Research Topic is devoted, but not limited, to recent scientific progress on the following areas:
1. Greenhouse architecture, vertical farming, and agronomic practices aimed at crop production in urban habitats or extreme conditions.
2. Improving crop systems to decrease input needs, specifically energy, in closed and open environments.
3. Synthetic biology applied to agriculture.
4. Biorefinery: biochemistry and molecular biology of plant producing biologic and small-molecule medicines.
5. Robotics, sensors and ICT application dedicated to plant cultivation.
6. Artificial Intelligence dedicated to plant cultivation.
7. Breeding of cultivars to efficiently respond to single or multiple environmental factors, including lack of atmospheric pressure and, in general, those factors associated with plant growth in extraterrestrial space.
8. Biochemical and molecular level studies in the context of shifts in one or more climate change factors, including the effect of environmental factors on targeted plant secondary metabolites.
9. Transdisciplinary studies on the convergence of the above-mentioned approaches.
10. Sustainability studies on the economics of plant growth and production in extreme environments.
Cover image: Amadee-18 mission in Oman to simulate and test Martian living conditions. Courtesy of the OeWF Österreichisches Weltraum Forum- Austrian Space Forum (Ph Florian Voggeneder).
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