Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Yields

9 July 2019

This report by James O’Donovan, chair of the Cork Environmental Forum, outlines the potential environmental, social, and economic benefits of a transition to a vegan agricultural system in Ireland.

Image: Michael, Green Plants Field, Pexels, Pexels license
25 June 2019

This paper presents a newly developed open-source system for precision agriculture in lettuce production. The system, known as AirSurf, uses a lightweight manned aircraft to gather images of lettuce fields, then a deep learning algorithm assesses the state of the lettuce crops on a number of characteristics, including lettuce size and number per field.

Image: Ton Rulkens, Dried cassava roots, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
11 June 2019

This paper finds that production of the top ten global crops has already been affected by climate change, with mixed impacts across both crop type and geographical area. Oil palm has seen a 13% decrease in yields relative to those that would have been seen under historical climate conditions, while soybean has seen a 4% increase.

13 May 2019

The Fate of Food: What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World, by Amanda Little, examines the innovations that are changing food production.

Image: Atmospheric Research, CSIRO, Parched earth, typical of a drought., Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
13 May 2019

Extreme climate events such as droughts and heat waves are better predictors of yield anomalies than indicators of climate averages in maize, rice and soybeans, according to this paper. Irrigation can mitigate the negative yield impacts of frequent warm days.

Image: Виталий Смолыгин, Structure of DNA, Public Domain Pictures, CC0 Public Domain
8 April 2019

This perspective piece argues that new plant breeding technologies such as CRISPR-Cas could contribute to global food security and poverty reduction by increasing agricultural yields and smallholder incomes. The authors note that careful regulation, field testing and communication will be necessary for successful implementation, along with royalty-free access for smallholders.

Image: Max Pixel, Genus Bananas Musaceae Musa, CC0 Public Domain
26 February 2019

This commentary from the US-based Breakthrough Institute argues that agroecology is not the best way of reforming agriculture in Africa, because most African agriculture already follows agroecological principles such as avoiding monocropping and not using much fertiliser or pesticide.

26 February 2019

This report, originally published in French by policy research institute IDDRI and translated to English by the UK organic charity Soil Association, models the impacts of the European farming system transitioning to agroecological principles.

Image: USDA, A person's hands in soil with a worm, Flickr, Public domain
4 February 2019

This paper models the relationship between soil organic matter and yields of maize and wheat, finding that while higher soil organic carbon (a proxy for soil organic matter) levels do generally correspond to higher yields, the yields taper off at around 2% soil organic matter.

2 October 2018

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has released the September 2018 version of its quarterly reports, “Crop prospects and food situation”. According to the report, 39 countries currently require external food assistance, driven by conflicts and climate-related shocks. Of those countries, 31 are in Africa, seven are in Asia, and the remaining one is Haiti. World cereal production in 2018 is estimated to be 2.4% lower than in 2017, which saw a record high.

Image: C.G. Newhall, Pyroclastic flows at Mayon Volcano, Philippines, 1984, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
20 August 2018

A recent paper uses data from volcanic eruptions to estimate the effects that geoengineering with sulphate aerosols would have on agricultural production. It concludes that the damage that geoengineering would do to maize, soy, rice and wheat outputs (because of reduction in sunlight reaching the crops) would have roughly the same magnitude as the benefits of the cooling it would provide.

24 July 2018

This book, by Jules Pretty and Zareen Pervez Bharucha, explores the current state of knowledge of sustainable agricultural intensification in a variety of settings, including smallholder farms and industrialised countries.

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.

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