Dr Dimitra Loka
Climate smart-grass: the increasing number and frequency of extreme weather events experienced by the UK are predicted to negatively affect grassland ecosystems, resulting in severe knock-on effects to a range of key ecosystem services, the agricultural economy and the cultural landscape. These environmental consequences may be compounded if extreme events occur close together. In this NRN Cluster we seek to better understand the fundamental science that underpins grassland responses to extreme events while simultaneously designing and testing new grassland swards to provide greater resistance against them.
Key goals of the research programme are:
(a)To improve our fundamental understanding of how plant-soil interactions in grasslands respond to a combination of environmental stressors (extreme weather events) and how these will affect farm productivity and the delivery of ecosystem services.
(b)To determine the 'tipping points' at which environmental stressors cause irreversible negative changes in grassland ecosystem functioning.
(c)To develop a range of novel Festulolium-based mitigation strategies which provide increased resistance to extreme weather events.
(d)To test and validate these new Festulolium mitigation strategies at the field plot-scale.
(e) To provide the agricultural industry, policymakers and associated stakeholders with new management tools for future-proofing Welsh agriculture against extremes and uncertainties in weather.
(f) To develop a new self-sustaining national research network that pursues policy relevant research to improve the resilience of Welsh farming to multiple environmental stressors.