Researcher in the Spotlight – Svend Christensen

Professor Svend Christensen is the head of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN) at the University of Copenhagen and is the new chair of PlantLink! Welcome again! He took part in initiating the Nordic Plant Phenotyping Network (NPPN) and Plant Biologicals network. Svend’s current research is driven by an interest in innovation at the intersection between sustainable agricultural systems and biosolutions. What led to this journey? Read the interview below!

What is currently at the top of your research agenda?

I am currently preoccupied with the intersection between sustainable agricultural systems and biosolutions, farming with nature, so to speak. Basically, it’s about the need to implement more holistic and environmentally sound farming practices to meet consumer demands while mitigating climate change and biodiversity-related issues via technological advancements, crop development, and the resurgence of integrating sound agronomical principles that take our planetary boundaries into account.

Tell us about your latest publication.

My latest publication, ‘Unravelling the Complexities of Genotype-Soil-Management Interaction for Precision Agriculture, ’ published in Agronomy in 2023, is about the interactions among crop genotypes, soil types, and crop management. Together with Assistant Professor Signe Jensen from PLEN, we have investigated how different winter wheat crop varieties respond to varying soil types and preceding crops. We used a Danish dataset from 27 years of winter wheat trials, with 276 unique varieties tested across seven distinct soil types and more than 8000 plots.

What led you to your particular field of research?

My journey into my current field of research is rooted in a passion for crop science. Over the years, I have explored various aspects of crop research, particularly in crop and weed competition, precision agriculture, and, more recently, field phenotyping methods. In essence, my trajectory in this field has been guided by an interest in innovation that contributes to agricultural solutions by applying cutting-edge research and technology.

What are the implications of your research for society?

I envision it being a key part of obtaining much more resource-efficient agricultural production systems that contribute with solutions to societal and environmental challenges, rather than always being the sector named as one of the main contributors to the climate crisis we face.

Finally, let´s say you have unlimited research funds; where would your research be five years from now?

We would be well on our way to all farms implementing robotics in their field operations and documenting why reduced monocropping and more intercropping is the way forward….oh, and we would spend many efforts networking across research organisations and farm operations to share protocols and collect data, both regionally and globally, customizing solutions to the different environments at a more rapid pace and hopefully also shifting agricultural policies along the way.

Thank you for a very interesting interview, Svend! We wish you the best of luck and success in your future path!

(Main photo: Jakob Helbig, PLEN UCPH)