Global Crop Yields Slowing

21d8some call it maize Global Crop Yields Slowing

Nature, researchers disturbingly find that the yields
of four major crops – corn, rice, wheat, soybeans- are slowing
and even falling in various regions around the globe. From the
In the coming decades, continued population growth, rising meat
and dairy consumption and expanding biofuel use will dramatically
increase the pressure on global agriculture. Even as we face these
future burdens, there have been scattered reports of yield
stagnation in the world’s major cereal crops, including maize, rice
and wheat. Here we study data from ~2.5 million census observations
across the globe extending over the period 1961–2008. We examined
the trends in crop yields for four key global crops: maize, rice,
wheat and soybeans. Although yields continue to increase in many
areas, we find that across 24–39% of maize-, rice-, wheat- and
soybean-growing areas, yields either never improve, stagnate or
The Washington Post
Study co-author Jonathan Foley, talking
to Science Daily, suggests one possible explanation. “This
finding is particularly troubling because it suggests that we have
preferentially focused our crop improvement efforts on feeding
animals and cars, as we have largely ignored investments in wheat
and rice, crops that feed people and are the basis of food security
in much of the world,” he said.
Consider the situation with corn around the globe. As the
Nature study reports yields have stagnated or collapsed in
several African countries. Currently African corn yields hover

around 25 to 30 bushels per acre [PDF]. Even in 2012’s bad
drought year average U.S. corn yields were
122 bushels per acre [PDF]. Some researchers believe that it is
possible to raise average corn yields in 20 years to
300 bushels per acre. This means that Malthusian starvation can
be avoided if governments in poor countries allow their farmers to
take advantage of modern crop technologies.

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Global Crop Yields Slowing

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