SZE research group for sustainable, healthy crop production

A research group on environmentally friendly plant protection and efficient plant virology is being established at the Mosonmagyaróvár Faculty at Széchenyi István University, led by Professor Dr László Amand Palkovics. The project, which won a call for proposals by the Secretariat of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network and the Office of the Supported Research Groups, will further enhance the scientific work at the institution and contribute to the transfer of practical, state-of-the-art knowledge.

"We have achieved an important success in a long-established grant scheme that supports the work of research groups in Hungary, as the grant will enable us to start significant research in the service of healthy nutrition," said Dr László Amand Palkovics, Professor of the Department of Plant Sciences at the institution, commenting on the successful application.

Research topics include the study of viruses in the production of vegetables, crops and ornamental plants, with a focus on resistance and the resistance-breaking properties of viruses.

"The identification of new plant pathogens, the development of diagnostic methods and rapid field testing are also of particular importance, as rapid diagnosis provides the opportunity for an immediate response to the spread of the virus," the lecturer stressed. He said that once it took hundreds of years for pathogens to cross continental borders, but today it takes just a few hours. The process is being accelerated by climate change.

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Dr László Amand Palkovics, Professor at the Department of Plant Sciences, Széchenyi István University (Photo: Csaba József Májer)

Early warning, environmentally friendly substances and biological pesticides are also key areas in plant protection. The research leader explained that the proposal also includes the development of a forecasting method for remote sensing research, where artificial intelligence detects plant diseases using high-resolution images, which will facilitate the development of precision crop protection technologies and the specific application of chemical active substances.

"The prestigious professional programmes, which seek the best solutions to the current problems of our time, as well as the recognition of excellence and support for deserving research, such as this one, will further enhance the prestige of Széchenyi István University and strengthen its position in national and international comparisons.

Significant research activity also raises the educational quality of the University, as the results are immediately incorporated into the teaching materials, thus students receive the latest scientific and practical knowledge and can acquire usable, up-to-date knowledge," said the professor, explaining the importance of the programme.

"The perception of agriculture and food production has undergone an important change in recent years, because the pandemic period has made it clear to everyone how strategic this area is for the country. There will always be a need for good quality food and the good quality raw materials needed to produce it, and agriculture provides it. The Professor’s research also contributes to healthy food production," said Dr Éva Szalka, Dean of the Faculty, who stressed that the Faculty’s home, the castle and its surroundings in Óvár, has been improved in recent years, making it even more attractive for students.

"In the period ahead, we will continue to expand and develop, strengthening several areas, including food science, sustainable environment and rural development. In addition, we will build on the technical tradition of Széchenyi István University and develop our precision agriculture programmes with a focus on the latest technologies," emphasised the Dean.

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