Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Increasing cropping frequency offers opportunity to boost food supply

26.11.2013
More frequent harvest could substantially boost global food production on existing agricultural lands

Harvesting existing cropland more frequently could substantially increase global food production without clearing more land for agriculture, according to a new study from the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota.


The harvest gap is the difference between the yearly maximum potential and the actual harvest frequency for 2000–2011. A harvest gap of 0 indicates harvest is maximized, while a harvest gap of 1 implies the potential for an additional harvest each year.

The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, tracked global harvest trends of 177 crops between 1961 and 2011. It found that the total amount of land harvested increased four times faster than the total amount of cropland between 2000 and 2011, suggesting that harvest frequency was on the rise. This led the authors to wonder if there might be additional gains to be had by strategically increasing cropping frequency.

"Could existing arable lands get more frequent harvests, and what is the upper limit?" asked Deepak Ray, lead author of the study. To answer that question, he introduced a new concept: harvest gap.

Harvest gap is the difference between actual per-year harvest frequency and the maximum potential frequency. Ray and the study’s co-author, IonE director Jonathan Foley, estimated that on average an extra harvest is being missed globally every two years due to the presence of this harvest gap.

The researchers found that Africa, Latin America and Asia have the highest concentration of potential harvest gaps. Brazil, for example, which on average harvests its croplands nearly once per year, has a harvest gap of 0.9, suggesting that on its current arable lands a second harvest is possible each year. Closing the gap would boost crop production on existing croplands without resorting to further clearing for agriculture, and so could potentially reduce the pressure to destroy additional rain forest. Increased harvest frequency also holds potential for mitigating risk under a changing climate. Worldwide, the researchers found that closing harvest gaps worldwide could theoretically boost production more than 44 percent.

Ray notes the study amounts to "scientific eyeballing," since only national data were available and only for 177 crops. To fully quantify the potential impact, more local data would be needed, and local farmers would have to weigh the benefits against the costs of additional harvests, which may turn out to be prohibitive.

In addition, the researchers note that efforts to increase crop harvest frequency must also be wary of leading to deterioration of soil, water and the agricultural land base. "Depending on local environmental conditions, agronomic practices and social contexts, increasing cropland harvest frequency could present a short-term gain in crop production, with long-term losses in agricultural yields and environmental conditions. Only if increasing frequency of harvests can be done sustainably is this strategy a potential way to address some of the challenges of crop production and food security," they write.

Localized studies suggest that farmers around the world already are benefiting from increasing the number of harvests. "Introduction of second crops, generally corn following the primary soybean crop, has increased local incomes across economic sectors," the report noted. Countries in which cropping frequency already is increasing include Brazil, India and China; however, others, including many African nations, have shown a decline in recent years.

More frequent cropping, the authors said, represents a potentially powerful "third way" of increasing food production, in addition to expanding cropland and increasing harvest yields, both of which are widely studied by IonE researchers.

"The challenge for our generation is to meet growing food demands without destroying our environment. Increasing cropland harvest frequency is another piece toward solving the global food security puzzle," Foley said.

The University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment seeks lasting solutions to Earth's biggest challenges through research, partnerships and leadership development. For more information, visit environment.umn.edu.

Mary Hoff | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umn.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State

nachricht How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>