Day 1 :
Benson Hill Biosystems Inc.
Keynote: Trends in AgBiotech
Time : 10:05 - 10:30
Andy Renz received his PhD in Plant Molecular Biology from the University of Bayreuth, Germany. After Postdoctoral studies at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam, Germany, he joined BASF Plant Science in 1999 as Lab Leader for Metabolic Engineering of Oilseed Crops. From 2003 to 2014 he was leading international teams at BASF Plant Science and was responsible for numerous technology acquisitions in Europe, Asia and the Americas. In 2014 he joined Benson Hill Biosystems as Vice President Business Development. He is on the Industry Advisory Board of several organizations including Ag Innovation Showcase and Global Ag Investing.
Agricultural Biotechnology is far more than herbicide tolerant or insect resistant crops, although these two are key traits with multiple products in the market today. Driven by the realization that agricultural productivity will not suffice to feed the growing world population, and enabled by break-through advancements in genome sequencing and synthetic biology, new product concepts, approaches and traits have been developed. Disease resistant crops can now be developed through novel molecular breeding technologies such as genomic selection, and through transgenic approaches. Biologicals add a completely new dimension to the field of disease resistance in crops. Yield-enhanced crops and crops with improved abiotic stress tolerance are being developed by multi-nationals and start-up companies. To successfully develop products for this complex trait, a combination of molecular breeding, omics, synthetic biology, advanced phenotyping and precision agriculture is necessary. Biologicals have been developed that show promising effects on crop productivity in the field. The development of quality-improved crops has been challenging, and it now facilitated by progress in synthetic biology and genome editing. Future trends in AgBiotech may include integrated solutions of today’s AgBiotech approaches. In the biologicals field, these may include integrated products for improved crop-microbiome interactions and combinations of biologicals with agrochemical products. For yield-enhanced and stress tolerant crops these may be multi-gene stacks with precise genomic integration through genome editing, in combination with modern breeding-derived traits. Both, GM and non-GM products may be possible.
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Keynote: The optimal atmospheric CO2 concentration for the growth of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Time : 10:30-10:55
Ming Xu has completed his PhD in 2000 from the University of California at Berkeley and Postdoctoral studies from the same university in 2002. He is an Associate Professor at Rutgers University and an Adjunct Professor with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research has focused on global change ecology and process-based ecosystem modeling. He has published more than 100peer-reviewed papers in the leading journals of his fields and dozens of books and book chapters. He has been serving as an Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Plant Ecology.
This study examined the threshold of CO2 fertilization effect on the growth of winter wheat with five growth chambers where the CO2 concentration was controlled at 400, 600, 800, 1000, and 1200ppm respectively. I found that initial increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration dramatically enhanced winter wheat growth through the CO2 fertilization effect. However, this CO2 fertilization effect was substantially compromised with further increase in CO2 concentration, demonstrating a threshold (the optimal CO2 concentration) of 889.6, 909.4, and 894.2ppm for aboveground, belowground, and total biomass, respectively, and 967.8ppm for leaf photosynthesis. Also, high CO2 concentrations exceeding the threshold not only reduced leaf stomatal density, length and conductance, but also changed the spatial distribution pattern of stomata on leaves. The spatial patterns of stomata were scale-dependent, a pattern of regularity at scales below about 150 micrometers, clustering beyond 220 micrometers, and random between the two scales. Elevating CO2 concentration led to more regular patterns of stomatal distribution at small scales (<150 micrometer), but little effect was detected on the clustering patterns at large scales (>220 micrometers). In addition, high CO2 concentration also decreased the maximum carboxylation rate (Vcmax) and the maximum electron transport rate (Jmax) of leaf photosynthesis. However, the high CO2 concentration had little effect on leaf length and plant height. The results indicate that climate change assessment models may overestimate the CO2 fertilization effect and, thus underestimate the potential threats of climate change on agriculture when atmospheric CO2 concentration exceeds the threshold. The threshold of CO2 fertilization effect found in this study can also be used as an indicator in selecting and breeding new wheat strains in adapting to future high atmospheric CO2 concentrations and climate change.
Keynote: Measured Irrigation - Improving the water-efficiency of irrigation by changing the irrigation paradigm
Time : 11:10-11:35
Bernie Omodei completed his PhD in Numerical Analysis age 26 years from Australian National University and postdoctoral studies at University of Manchester and Flinders University of South Australia. After lecturing at University of Sydney for seven years, he was Mail Order Manager at Oxfam Australia for 10 years. Prior to embarking on a career as an inventor, he was Fundraising Manager at Trees For Life. As well as his publications in mathematics, he recently published a paper on measured irrigation in Irrigation Science. He attended the 2015 International Symposium and “Writeshop” on Rainwater Harvesting in Addis Ababa.
The current paradigm for controlling the volume of water delivered to each plant is to control both the flow rate and the duration of the irrigation event. Measured irrigation is a radical departure from this paradigm and the implications for water-efficiency and energy-efficiency are significant. Measured irrigation is the implementation of two fundamental concepts: (i) Measured irrigation controls the application rate to each plant by controlling emitted volumes directly without the need to control the flow rate or the duration of the irrigation event. (ii) Variations in the application rate to each plant throughout the year are controlled by the prevailing weather conditions; the application rate is proportional to the nett evaporation rate (evaporation minus rainfall). Conventional irrigation systems use a timer or controller to control the opening and closing of solenoids in order to control the duration of the irrigation event and the frequency of irrigation. Measured irrigation uses an evaporator and level sensor to control the duration of the irrigation event and the frequency of irrigation. During the irrigation event water slowly drips into the evaporator from a control nozzle. Some applications of measured irrigation are discussed including the amount of water saved.