Plant production is central in agriculture, food systems, and in bio-economy applications, which is essential to address future challenges related to growing population, climate change, scarcity of agricultural land, loss of biodiversity etc. Integrated solutions and new technologies are needed to improve plant production, based on knowledge-driven innovation to the farming sector, agricultural and seed industries.
Therein, the analysis of crop performance with respect to structure, function, quality and interaction with the environment (“phenotyping”) is key for the exploitation of crop genetic diversity required for the enhancement of plant productivity and progress in plant breeding. This requires substantial and concerted action to develop and to increase the availability of phenotyping infrastructures. The European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) has thus identified “Plant Phenotyping” as a priority for the European research area and EMPHASIS has been listed on the ESFRI ROADMAP, addressing primary plant production as the key step in future European agro-food-systems and bio-economy transformation. The Preparatory Phase project (EMPHASIS-PREP, 2017-2021) paved the way towards implementation and subsequent operation. It developed a business plan and established the Interim General Assembly, as main decision-making body, comprising high-level representation from policy and science. EMPHASIS-GO will build on the successful work in the Preparatory Phase, extend the membership with partners from eleven countries fully committed to support EMPHASIS and bring EMPHASIS into operation to fully explore the potential European plant phenotyping by i) developing and deploying services, ii) implement the legal, financial and organisational framework and iii) consolidating the business plan for future operations.