May 23, 2017
Climate change is impacting agriculture.
“We know it’s going to bring different weather conditions, and hotter conditions, less water, more freak events that will ruin crops eventually. It is scary but it’s interesting to see the way it will react with our crops in the future.”
Grace studied agriculture and now works as a microbiologist. She tests pharmaceuticals for the presence of bacteria.
“Which I’m hoping will give me experience for agriculture, because agriculture really relies on the use of microorganisms.”
At the moment, agriculture uses nitrogen fertiliser to increase crop yields. The problem is that this is bad for the environment and can be costly.
Grace is interested in how bacteria can be used to meet that nitrogen requirement instead.
“Because there are lots of bacteria that instead of using oxygen to respire, like we do, use nitrogen. And the product of that kind of breathing is that they basically produce fertiliser.”
She is fascinated by bacteria. They have interesting structures and colours.
“We grew one and it looked like this crazy alien spreading tree root shape… they’re incredible.”
Grace is also motivated to find ways to ensure food security, particularly under the changing conditions brought about by climate change.
“The environment is the most important thing that you deal with. It provides your land, your water, some of your fertiliser requirements. So obviously it makes sense to protect it.”
A lot of research is required to map the effects of climate change.
“They see more changes in the life cycle of insects that could damage crops, and also the migratory cycles of birds, they’re just seeing that here… subtle changes, but they’re mapping these changes.”
Grace explains that agriculture is also impacted by biotic stressors.
“It might be interesting to see how climate change might affect these types of beneficial bacteria as well. I guess, these bacteria rely on nitrogen in the air. So if that balance is thrown off by carbon dioxide in the air, I don’t think it would be enough to do anything, but it might be interesting to see what happens to them.”