Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Yields

Image: sbj04769, Spray plane agriculture, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
26 June 2018

Rob Bailey and Bernice Lee of UK think tank Chatham House have written a piece exploring food system trends, including rising food demand, plateauing yields in key crop production regions, global convergence on a diet dependent on calorie-dense but nutrient-poor crops and a lack of genetic diversity in staple crops. The authors conclude that current food system trends are unsustainable, saying, “The continued intensification and expansion of agriculture is a short-term coping strategy that will eventually lead to food-system collapse.” They call for interventions at key leverage points in the food system.

Image: Dr. David Midgley, Aspergillus fumigatus from soil in culture, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic
4 June 2018

The emergence of disease-causing fungi that are resistant to antifungal drugs threatens both human health and food security, according to a recent paper. Some resistance has been found to every main class of agricultural fungicides and many medical antifungals used to treat humans and animals. The paper outlines some factors contributing to emerging resistance and makes some policy recommendations.

Image: ILRI, Groundnut farmer in Malawi, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
23 April 2018

This article looks at our ability to increase cropping intensity in order to meet future food needs and avoid expanding cropped land area. The research produces spatially explicit information on the cropping intensity gap, i.e. the difference between actual and potential cropping intensity and finds that increasing cropping intensity could compensate for land lost to urbanisation.

Photo: SupportPDX, Crops, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
25 September 2017

This paper details the findings of a meta-analysis of published data on the impact of increasing temperatures on the global and regional yield of wheat, rice, maize and soy. 

Photo: Connie, polyculture, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
12 April 2017

This paper, taken from an inaugural edition on planetary health in the Lancet, analyses global food and nutrient production and diversity by farm size, providing evidence on how smallholder farmers contribute to the quantity and quality of our global food supply and discussing the structural impacts of agriculture on nutrient availability.

Photo: Erik Edgren, Root, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
4 April 2017

In this post in the Conversation, crop scientist Matthew Wallenstein, Associate Professor and Director at the Innovation Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Colorado State University, discusses the potential of natural microbes to improve agriculture and make it more sustainable. 

Photo: muffinn, Hallow – muck spreading, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 Generic.
29 March 2017

This review assesses the performance of organic cropping systems as an approach to sustainable agriculture, and seeks to identify the contextual considerations (such as type of cropping system) that may affect this performance. The scope of the review is constrained to the level of the farming system (i.e. excludes considerations of other components of the food system, such as packaging or transport). In order to provide an unbiased assessment of organic farming as a means of sustainable agriculture, rather than approaching the question from the usual “What does organic farming do well/badly?” angle, the authors ask “What constitutes successful sustainable agriculture?” then measure organic farming against this yardstick.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Pesticide Spraying, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0.
15 March 2017

This Nature Plants paper by researchers from agroecological and agronomical research institutions in France used a statistical modelling approach to predict the effects of reducing pesticide use on the productivity and profitability of French arable farms.

Photo: Chafer machineries, Flickr, creative commons licence 2.0
8 March 2017

A recent paper published in BioScience articulates the need for a new vision and new goals for the sustainable intensification of agriculture, moving away from the often cited statement that food production must double by 2050 to feed the world's growing population.

31 January 2017

This paper examines high-resolution, crop-specific GHG emissions and GHG intensity estimates which are derived using a method that couples biophysical models with novel 5-arc-minute resolution data.

Photo credit: DFID - UK Department for International Development, Women and men in northern Rwanda work on a public works site, building terraces to prevent soil erosion, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.
24 January 2017

This article by agricultural researchers in Spain reviews the historical changes in land use and soil management practices, and examines how these changes have contributed to soil erosion in the past, before presenting modelling data to show how soil erosion may impact on agricultural yields in the future.

Credit: Edward Musiak, Mountain range, Flickr, Creative Commons licence 2.0
22 November 2016

This paper takes as its starting point the mainstream projections that in future, global food production will need to increase by another 60–110% by 2050, to keep up with anticipated increases in human population and changes in diet (it should be noted, however, that the need and feasibility of such increases is contested (see), with many arguing that dietary change and waste reduction can reduce the need for production increases (see)).

Photo: Susanne Nilsson, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
17 November 2016

This report highlights the impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector and how, in the future, this is increasingly threatening food security for millions. The report states that meeting the goals of eradicating hunger and poverty by 2030, while addressing the threat of climate change, will require profound transformation of food and agriculture systems worldwide – which is of course a major challenge. 

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