Dr Jason Wargent, Massey University
RSNZ Manawatu Branch April 2015 meeting
7.30 pm Tuesday, 21 April, Te Manawa – Art Gallery, 326 Main Street, Palmerston North
UV radiation is a powerful part of our daily lives in New Zealand. 2015 marks 30 years since the losses of stratospheric ozone over Antarctica sparked worldwide concerns regarding the consequences of increased levels of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. These concerns ranged from potentially higher rates of skin cancer, through to crop failures. In response, the Montreal Protocol was ratified by 196 nations, triggering one of the most successful environmental programmes in history. At the present time, and following the outcomes from the Protocol, there are indications that the ozone layer is showing signs of recovery. Regardless of such successes, and largely regardless of ozone depletion, UV levels are higher in the Southern Hemisphere than in equivalent European latitudes. Since the discovery of the ‘ozone hole’, our understanding of the effects of UV radiation on plant biology and crop growth has now moved on, whereby the power of UV could now be exploited to strengthen the food security and food production challenges we now face. The range of plant responses which can be triggered by UV is vast, including changes in crop colour, taste and yield. This new understanding has been extended across vegetable and fruit crops, including wine grapes, offering food producers new and sustainable tools to grow hardy crops in the current face of climatic uncertainty. This seminar will be a journey through the UV story, from our starting point of ozone loss, through to the new paradigm of UV as a means to strengthen modern farming systems.
Dr Jason Wargent is a Senior Lecturer in Horticulture at Massey University. Jason’s research is principally focussed on understanding plant responses to environmental factors to increase sustainability and quality in crop production. Jason is also the founder and Chief Science Officer of the Manawatu start-up company BioLumic, which develops technology focussed on improving crop yield and quality using UV light treatments.
All warmly welcome