At Levity our research team has a strong focus on abiotic stress, which is the main limiting factor in Southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa for both yield and quality of crops. Here we look at how the climate and soil conditions found in the region affect crop production.

In the arid and semi-arid parts of the world crop stress is extreme, with soils, water quality and temperature variation (high day / low night), extreme photo-oxidative stress and soil with high pH and salt levels. Although these stresses are all different, they all result in excess production in the plant of toxic chemicals called Reactive oxygen species (ROS).antistress-467x380

ROS damage plant cell’s organelles, membranes and proteins. Plants can absorb ROS, but under either extreme stress, or long periods of stress fail to cope, resulting in damage and loss of yield. Crops lose yield as they use energy to fight stress rather than to grow.

Because all kinds of stress affect all species of plants in fundamentally the same way (ROS damage), effective stress tolerance chemistry can work across the full range of climates and crops.

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Untreated plants on the left show severe damage from salty water, on the right Levity treated plants have less damage and higher yields.

Stress does not need to be acute to cause yield loss, minor levels of stress throughout a season decrease the productivity of the plant (by diverting metabolic energy to stress tolerance). These yield losses can be very significant, for example in wheat average yield is only 13% of the maximal yield.

Levity MD Anna Weston said “Given the scale of crop loss due to stress, and the level of scientific research in the field, it is difficult to understand why more products have not emerged to help combat it. Bridging the gap between lab research and real field conditions can be challenging, and requires a highly specialist mix of expertise. Levity have invested in the skills and facilities needed to be at the forefront of product development in stress tolerance. ”

Levity specialise in research and development of products that help plants cope with the stresses limiting yield and quality that are so prevalent in arid regions. Our research into stress tolerance has created products that allow crops to grow normally when grown with high salt irrigation water or under drought. Work is also underway focusing on the amelioration of photo-oxidative stress, and temperature stress.