NordCrop helps us adapt to a changing global climate

How can we find more robust genotypes? In a changing climate we need to adapt our crops. Our NKJ research network NordCrop is working to do this!

Field crops are under pressure due to climate change. Knowledge of crop response to single abiotic stress is often available, but NordCrop will focus on the poorly understood effects of multiple stresses to develop more resilient field crops. Global climate change means that our crops are increasingly exposed to drought or waterlogging, heat and elevated CO2.

The network, funded by NKJ, will investigate how we can exploit new genomic and phenotyping technologies to identify more robust genotypes in key Nordic field crops (wheat, oat, potato and fodder grasses). A virtual meeting is coming up, 14-15 April 2021: “Phenotyping for abiotic climate stresses and yield” (day 1) and “Phenotyping for stresses ” (day 2). Welcome to participate!

Register here, it’s free of charge!

For further information contact Carl-Otto Ottosen,


Preliminary schedule Virtual Meeting Resilient Northern Crops Network (NordCrop) 14–15 April 2021


Day 1 April 14: 12.30-16.30 Phenotyping for abiotic climate stresses and yield
12.30 Welcome (Carl-Otto Ottosen, Aarhus University (AU))
12.40 Keynote Rod Snowdon: Genetics and physiology of yield potential (Justus Liebig University)
13.10 Priming for heat tolerance in wheat (Thayna Mendanha, AU)
13.30 Image-based detection of fungal pathogen infections in Arabidopsis and application of the method on oat spikelets (Kristiina Himanen, University of Helsinki)
13.50 The genetic and physiological basis of yield progress in Norwegians spring wheat (Tomasz Mróz, Norvegian University of Life Science (NMBU))
14.10 Magic populations in phenotyping (John Doonan, Aberysthwyth University, (AberU))
14.30 Grain yield prediction based on multitemporal multispectral UAV imaging (Sahameh Shafiee, NMBU)
14.50 3D modelling of ear emergence (Mori Boozandani, AberU)
15.10 Break
15.30 Student presentations (5 min each)
16.00 General discussion (to be planned)

Day 2 April 15: 12.30-16.30 Phenotyping for stresses
12.30 Keynote Olivier Van Aken: Wounding response och and stress tolerance (Lund University)
13.00 Wheat and drought (Anders Carlsson, Swedish Agricultural University (SLU)
13.20 Sorghum (Mulatu Geleta, SLU)
13.40 Modulated chlorophyll fluorescence as sceening tool (Eva Rosenqvist, University of Copenhagen (UCPH)
14.00 Guard cells in action (Hannes Kollist, University of Tartu)
14.20 Physiological responses of tomato to drought, elevated CO2 and VPD (Shenglan Li, UCPH)
14.40 Multiple stresses and melationin (Rong Zhou, AU)
15.00 Break
15.20 Wheat and heat (Aakash Chawade, SLU)
15.40 Detecting potato diseases in the field (Rick van de Zedde, Wageningen University and Research, NL)
16.00 Wrap up and general discussion

Gender equal Nordic bioeconomy by female mentoring

We need to redefine who the typical worker is in the bioeconomy. The sector needs female mentoring programs and networks for women to become more gender equal.


Download the report further down

The report “Redefining digital bioeconomy” shows the need to work with the interface between gender equality, bioeconomy and digitalisation. Digitalisation and automation of heavy jobs could have been one way to achieve a more gender-equal bioeconomy. But that has not been the case. Instead, the two already heavily male-dominated sectors have continued to be as male-dominated when they are joined in a digitalised bioeconomy.

Not only for women

We want to change that! The bioeconomy plays a crucial role in mitigating and managing climate change. To overcome the challenges we face, we must have access and make use of the competence and experiences of the entire population, not just men. And there shouldn’t be any parts in society that are closed to certain groups.

There is almost no literature investigating gender equality in a digitalised bioeconomy. With our report “Redefining digital bioeconomy”, we want to fill the gap.

Ways forward

The report highlights that the ongoing shift in workforce skills needed both in the bioeconomy and technology sectors could be used to actively redefine the stereotypical worker in the sectors.

We also recognised the need for female leadership, mentors and networks. This is widely emphasised as key factor to attract more women to the sector.

We suggest five action points:

  • Increasing the number of female role models
  • Mentorship programs
  • Networks for young professionals and students
  • Further research in the intersection of digitalisation, bioeconomy and gender
  • Tools and methods to incorporate gender in bioeconomy-related education

The work will go on

We will now continue to work with norm-critical dialogue and discussions with the goal to produce a handbook for a gender-equal, digitalised bioeconomy. The target group for the manual is students – they are the future workforce in the bioeconomy and that’s where we must make a difference!

Click to download the report


Click to see an interview with one of the authors of the report, Lovisa Torfgård

Corona forces us to learn new manors

The Corona pandemic changes our lifes in many respects. Networking activities has had to be different. Not at all impossible, but different.


There is other ways to network than travelling and meeting physically. We can meet and accomplish a lot in digital ways. We can present research results, discuss and step forward. But we need some time to change and to learn.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project period for NKJ networks has previously been extended. To be able to achieve the aims of the networks and to report the activities on time, we strongly encourage our networks to arrange meetings online. We don’t want you to miss out on contacts, cooperation and new knowledge, so please take all chances there are to keep up the good work!

In the light of the travel restrictions, we suggest that networks use funding initially budgeted as travel costs, for arranging high quality online meetings, if needed. This means that networks could use funding intended for travel costs to e.g. involve consultants or facilitators to help design and arrange cutting edge digital meeting solutions.

Good luck, and please let us know about your experiences of digital meetings!

Great interest in learning more about soil as a carbon sink

There were a huge interest in joining our seminar about the current state of knowledge on soil as a carbon sink. But we want to provide those who missed it, and those who wants to refresh the memory, the presentations from our speakers.


November 26th we met to have an overview of the state of Nordic knowledge on soil as a carbon sink. There are good conditions for Nordic cooperation due to the countries’ similar soil types, climate and policies.

But where are we at? Is there a common Nordic base in terms of knowledge? These were our speakers:

Prof emeritus Johan Bouma, board member in the European Commission’s mission in the area of Soil health and food: “Exploring the exciting potential of  the Nordic countries to capture soil carbon following climate change”


Prof Katarina Hedlund, Lund University: “How to turn agriculture soils into carbon sinks”


Prof Raisa Makipää, LUKE: “Forest soils and their carbon sequestration potential”

What do we really know about soil as a carbon sink?

We would like to invite you to the first seminar in the Nordic Seminar Series on Soil as a Carbon Sink.

Soil as a Carbon Sink

Seminar 1: The Current State of Knowledge

When: 26th of November, 10.00-12.00 CET
To solve any technical problems, please log in to the seminar no later than 09.50                                 

Where: Online via Zoom
You will be provided with a link to the seminar on Monday 23rd of November


RSVP:  13th of November to



“Globally, soil contains about three times as much organic carbon as plants and twice as much as the atmosphere”  [1]

Increasing carbon storage in soil is proposed to be one of the most cost-effective climate measures, a measure that also has a positive impact on aspects such as biodiversity and soil fertility. The topic has gained the decision-makers’ interest and sits high on the political agenda in the Nordics. However, using soil as a carbon sink is a complex matter. Knowledge is developing at a fast pace, but several questions remain to be answered. The topic is also associated with challenges both in terms of policy development and implementation of identified methods and solutions.

The Nordic countries’ similar soil types and climate, as well as related goal formulations in terms of climate policy, do create promising conditions for increased Nordic co-operation on carbon storage in soil.


  • Welcome and introduction
  • Exploring the exciting potential of  the Nordic countries to capture soil carbon following climate change – Prof emeritus Johan Bouma, board member in the European Commission’s mission in the area of Soil health and food
  • How to turn agriculture soils into carbon sinks – Prof Katarina Hedlund, Lund University
  • Forest soils and their carbon sequestration potential – Prof. Raisa Makipää, LUKE
  • Dialogue with key note speakers
  • Closing remarks

Furthermore, please feel free to invite additional contacts you may have that would be interested in attending the seminar.



This seminar is part of a series aiming to stimulate knowledge exchange between Nordic actors interested in soil as a carbon sink. The seminars are initiated and financed by Nordic Forest ResearchNordic Agri Research and the Nordic Council of Ministers’ working group for climate and air.

NKJ finds new ways to a sustainable future in the energy sector

We need energy, for heating, for transports and for a lot of things in our everyday life. We need a lot of energy, and we need the energy system to be sustainable.


There is a potential for sustainable use of biomass in our Nordic countries. But there are also a lot of different and conflicting goals involved and we need to find ways through that.

The best way is to cooperate – and in the end we can possibly even export our knowledge and technology to the rest of the world.

NKJ has been part in the process to mapping this important matter, and you can read all about it in the report “Sustainable use of biomass for heating and transport fuel”. The work has been supervised by a steering group composed of Nordic Energy Research, Nordic Forest Research (SNS) and Nordic Joint Committee for Agricultural and Food Research (NKJ).

Read the report: Sustainable use of biomass for heating and transport fuel (PDF)

Save the date for a seminar: Soil as a carbon sink

November 26th 2020

Cropfield and blue sky. Photo.

We would like to welcome you to the first event in the Nordic Seminar Series on Soil as a Carbon Sink.

This first seminar will focus on the current state of knowledge in the field. Confirmed speakers thus far are Prof Katarina Hedlund from Lund University  and Prof emeritus Johan Bouma, board member in the European Commission’s mission in the area of Soil health and food.

WHEN: 26th of November, 10-12 CET
WHERE: Online
RSVP: Nov 13 to

The seminar series aims to stimulate knowledge exchange between Nordic actors interested in soil as a carbon sink. It is initiated and financed by:

Invitation with full agenda will be available shortly.

BioEquality project will change the Nordic bioeconomy

Our new BioEquality project started stage one of the work for a gender balanced, digitalised bioeconomy in the Nordic region October 12.


Venus symbol. Illustration.Based on the discussions during the project’s start-up meeting on September 24 the definition of the aim of the network was specified:

  1. The project is aimed at students at university level (bachelor, master and doctoral level).
  2. The the project is aimed at educations connecting forestry and agriculture.
  3. The project focuses on the intersection between gender equality, bioeconomy and digitalisation and
    shall provide a basis for students and program managers that can be used to relate to the gender issue in connection with the digitalisation of the bioeconomy.

Work package 1

Work package 1 was presented to the participants. It consists of a literature study and the job will be conducted by two coworkers at Analysys Mason in cooperation with Nordic Forest Research (SNS). The focus areas digitalisation, bioeconomy and gender will be studied in pairs. 

In December the network will have a say on the result before the work finished and the result is presented.

The work goes on

Work package 2 consists of norm-critical dialogues about the role of digitalisation for gender equality. Work package 3 consists of three forums for academia and business where they will discuss how the education of young academics can integrate the gender perspective with digitalisation of bioeconomy.

The project is expected to provide a deeper understanding of how the gender equality perspective can be integrated among both academia and business, as well as giving us a method manual for a more equal everyday life for the future employees in the bioeconomy.

Read more about the BioEquality project

Nordic Council of Ministers. Logotype.





New information system creates better security for the Nordic seed collection

The Nordic genes are secured for the future! One of our networks has been working on updating a platform for hosting the information about the 33 000 seed samples conserved in Alnarp, Sweden.


Information about the network – Evalution of genebank material
NordGen is the Nordic countries’ genebank and knowledge center for genetic resources. In Alnarp, there are 33 000 seed samples conserved detrimental for adapting our agriculture to present and future challenges.

Now, the platform hosting the information about all of these seeds is updated. From the 3rd of July, Nordic Baltic Genebanks Information System (GENBIS) replaces the previous system SESTO. GENBIS will be hosted by NordGen but also used by the national genebanks in all the Nordic and Baltic countries. 

Close up on wheat. Photo.

The heart of the genebank

The system containing the information about all the germplasms is the heart of every gene bank. It contains data about the seed samples and plants, their collection sites, characteristics and amount of seeds, to name a few.

– Without the information in the database, we wouldn’t be able to keep the plant collection alive or conduct research with it. To have a user-friendly, reliable and up-to-date information system is thereby vital to make use of the Nordic seed collection to secure our agriculture for the future”, says Lise Lykke Steffensen, executive director at NordGen.

Hard to find staff

The previous information system, SESTO, was developed in 2002 and has since then been used by genebanks in the Nordic and Baltic countries as well as genebanks in different countries in the south of Africa. But the code it was written in has become obsolete and it is difficult to find personnel confident in working with it. That’s why it was decided, after a thorough examination, that all the information would be transferred to the international platform GRIN-Global, well-known in the genebank community. SESTO’s successor has been given the name Nordic Baltic Genebanks Information System (GENBIS).

– GENBIS is a continuation on the close collaboration the Nordic and Baltic countries have had for a long time in the area of plant genetic resources. This new information system will lead to an improvement of the services we can offer, both internally and externally, when it comes to information about the genetic resources we need for developing agricultural solutions for the future”, says Külli Annamaa, head of the Estonian Genebank.

Open system

GENBIS will be used internally for genebank work, but also as an open information system available for researchers, plant breeders and other stakeholders who want to browse and order material stored in the genebanks. GENBIS can be visited at Here, you can also find user manuals.

For more information, please contact:

Lise Lykke Steffesen, executive manager, NordGen
+46 738-171 215

Külli Annamaa, head of the genebank, Estonian Crop Institute
+372 776837

New NKJ networks granted

Open bean capsule. Photo.NKJ will contribute to further Nordic cooperation through the new research networks that was granted funding at the board meeting in June. We hope your cooperation will be really fruitful, and NKJ would like to take part in it in different ways.


We received many applications for the call for networks in agriculture and climate. Here is the list of those who were granted funding:

In the call in plant health and alternative protein sources, we received fewer applications. We believe that part of the explanation may be that the Corona pandemic had reached the Nordic region when the call was opened – it is meetings between people that we want to achieve! But it doesn’t have to be physical meetings, so we hope you will be able to conduct all the activities planned for.

These networks have applied for and received funding from us:

  • Arctic Pea Network, Karolina Aloisi, NordGen
  • Nordic Apple Network: Towards decreasing postharvest losses in apple by knowledge exchange and capacity building, Larisa Gustavsson, SLU
  • Nordic Grain – Sustainable disease management in cereals in the Nordic region, Thies Marten Heick, Århus university
  • Bridge builders – Building sustainable nutritional bridges between research and health and wellbeing services for elderly, Teija Rautiainen, South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences