Relevant research questions on the crop physiology of Enset
Enset is an ideal crop for climate smart, sustainable agriculture, especially in low-input, fragile environments. Its main strengths are: prolonged canopy cover, recycling of nutrients, drought resistance, stable dry matter allocation, large storage capacity of starch, high harvest index, easy vegetative reproduction, and its ability to prevent soil erosion. Enset also has high radiation use efficiency and is tolerant against repetitive removal of leaves and repetitive transplanting. The plant and crop architecture of enset are special and deserve to be investigated in more detail by architectural models, such as functional-structural plant models (FSPMs). Through such FSPMs we can investigate the consequences of (trans) planting and gap filling practices on crop performance. Similarly, FSPMs can be used to assess the effects of repetitive leaf pruning. Moreover, these models should be used for 3D modelling of rainfall interception and water transfer by individual leaves and the entire canopy, enabling the study of water storage in the plant, drought tolerance, water use efficiency and protection against erosion. The influence of leaf tearing and tattering on performance of individual leaves is also relevant. Effects on photosynthesis and transpiration can be either positive or negative at the level of the individual leaves. Upscaling these effects to plant and crop performance is essential. Finally, it is likely that current crop stands are infected by viruses. Quantifying the yield reduction by such infections and the relation between virus titre and crop performance can help to assess the need for virus-free planting material.
Keywords/phrases: Functional-structural plant modelling, Leaf pruning, Sustainability, Transplanting, Virus infections