What is Abiotic Stress?
Abiotic stress, is stress caused by a crops environment and growing conditions including salty water, drought, cold, heat, frost, and UV light. Weather and growing conditions are the largest influence on crop yields, with good years being much more productive than bad ones.
Environmental Stresses Reduce Quality and Increase Incidence of Physiological Disorders
Understanding and manipulating a plants physiology can help improve crop quality.
Many crops do not make the grade because of physiological disorders, addressing these improves marketable yield and reduces waste
Using Plant Science to Improve Quality
As food production increases to feed a growing human population, resources are being squeezed. Water has to go further, and marginal land is being used for crops. Most crops average less than half of their potential due to abiotic stress. Climate change is making weather more unpredictable and this decreases yields. Finding ways to grow crops with less water, and help them through dry, cold or hot periods is a major challenge for farmers in all parts of the world.
Levity are studying how crops respond to stress, this is helping us find ways to help crops help themselves. Our scientists are developing ways to help farmers use high salt irrigation water without losing yields, and to help crops carry on growing when hit by dry, cool or hot periods. Our research shows that stimulating the plants ability to protect itself from toxins produced when stressed can lift yield and quality in many crops.
Average yield lost to stress in the US
- Wheat 82.1% 82.1%
- Potato 54.1% 54.1%
- Soybean 69.3% 69.3%
What We Do
Levity use a unique combination of crop science and agronomy to find better ways to grow crops. Our scientists are researching how plant physiology can improve agricultural inputs to develop products that help farmers produce better yields.
Levity have world class research facilities split between two sites at Myerscough Agricultural College and Lancaster University. Our team of scientists enjoy unrivalled access to formulation and development labs, testing labs, controlled environment growth rooms, experimental glasshouses, field test sites and a huge array of analytical equipment.
Lab to Land
What sets Levity apart is how we approach product development. We bridge academia and industry, taking the very latest in academic research and finding ways to put it to practical use to solve problems for farmers. Our products start on a farm where our expert agronomists take time to understand the challenges faced by growers, we then go back to the lab and apply crop science in research programmes. The products that emerge are tested around the world in rigorous independent trial programmes before we are finally ready to go back to the farm with a new product.
UV Light Stress
The whole world relies on plants to use energy from sunlight to make food, but the wrong balance of sunlight can damage crops. In the Southern hemisphere the ozone layer is thinner, and more UVB rays get through the atmosphere and onto crops. Crops protect themselves against UV by producing antioxidants, the same antioxidants that give colour and flavour to fruit and veg. This makes it hard to get colour to build in crops like grapes, cherries and apples in South America and South Africa. Levity are developing products that stimulate production of antioxidants to give growers better quality produce.
The climate is changing, and weather patterns are becoming less predictable. Rain does not always come at the right time, and more crops are losing yield due to periods of drought. Levity’s team of crop scientists study how drought affects crops, this research is helping us to develop products that protect crops from losing yield when water is scarce. By priming crops to allow them to cope when it gets dry, farmers can safeguard yields and use less irrigation water. More crop pr drop.
In arid and semi arid parts of the world overuse of groundwater aquifers is leading to seawater infiltration. Over time the level of salt in the water fed to crops in Southern Europe, North Africa and Australia is increasing, and it is reducing the yield of the crops it used to grow – in Spain salt in irrigation water decreases yields by over 20%. Levity’s research shows that by helping plants remove toxins that accumulate when they take in salty water yield loss can be prevented. Our products are helping farmers get higher yields with better quality.
When crops are grown under stress, it affects more than just yield. Crops lose calcium from cell walls when they are exposed to stress, and this has a negative impact on storage life post harvest. Levity’s research into how crops metabolise, absorb and store calcium is enabling us to develop new ways of improving shelf life and post harvest quality of fruit and vegetables.
The Tomato Results… Redox™ Technology
% Seawater irrigation
% yield loss
% yield regained with Indra
When I first started working on stress tolerance products two decades ago, it was regarded as slightly eccentric as the industry was so focussed on tackling pests and diseases. More and more now the large companies are coming around to our way of thinking and talking about stress. Our team at Levity have been involved in stress tolerance research since it’s infancy and are a long way ahead of the curve. Managing abiotic stress has the greatest potential of any field of science to raise yield and achieve global food security, and I am sure the products we are developing at Levity will play a big role in this.David Marks
There is so much potential to help farmers by making crops more resilient when they have dry periods, salty soils, or are irrigated with high EC irrigation water. With so much pressure on aquifers, getting water use down and allowing crops to be grown in conditions where currently yield is severely limited would be a huge stride forwards for sustainability. I went into crop science to make a difference, and I am proud to be able to be involved in research that can do just that.Anna Weston