The media are full of reports on winter crops that are suffering from floods. It has been an unusually wet winter where all the precipitation has come as rain rather than snow. In the moist air, the water does not evaporate and the soils are many places completely saturated with water.
What is the solution? We would clearly say climate-smart crops that are tolerant to waterlogging or even submergence. But the farmers need solutions here and now so they pledge the politicians to change and environmental laws to allow for deeper drainage of the fields – a solution that we know will result in increased leakage of nutrients to our precious aquatic environments where the nutrient are going to result in noxious algal blooms.
A canola (rape) crops suffering from too much water. Some plants are completely submerged whilst other are either partially submerged or waterlogged. The crop will be lost since we do not yet have cultivars that are tolerant to flood stress.
Hopefully, these flood disasters should open the eyes of decision makers in the funding agencies to divert a little bit of funding for sustainable solutions for the farmers. We are unable to address the increasing precipitation by simply digging deeper into the soil. Instead, we need winter wheat and rape that tolerate waterlogging or partial submergence – at the very least during winter with low temperature. The low temperature results in low oxygen demand of the plant tissue so it should be a doable task to bring more tolerant varieties to the market without compromising yield and disease resistance.