Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Green Revolution is wilting

19.12.2012
New Nature Communications paper shows yields have plateaued or dropped in many places for world’s most important crops
The Green Revolution has stagnated for key food crops in many regions of the world, according to a study published in the Dec. 18 issue of Nature Communications by scientists with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Led by IonE research fellow Deepak Ray, the study team developed geographically detailed maps of annual crop harvested areas and yields of maize (corn), rice, wheat and soybeans from 1961 to 2008. It found that although virtually all regions showed a yield increase sometime during that period, in 24 to 39 percent of the harvested areas (depending on the crop) yield plateaued or outright declined in recent years. Among the top crop-producing nations, vast areas of two of the most populous – China and India – are witnessing especially concerning stagnation or decline in yield.

"This study clearly delineates areas where yields for important food crops are stagnating, declining, or never improved, as well areas where yields are still rapidly improving," Ray says. "As a result, it both sounds the alert for where we must shift our course if we are to feed a growing population in the decades to come, and points to positive examples to emulate."

Interestingly, the researchers found that yields of wheat and rice – two crops that are largely used as food crops, and which supply roughly half of the world's dietary calories – are declining across a higher percentage of cropland than those of corn and soybean, which are used largely to produce meat or biofuels.

"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," said study co-author and IonE director Jonathan Foley, professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in the College of Biological Sciences. "How can we meet the growing needs of feeding people in the future if one-third of our cropland areas, in our most important crops, are not improving in yield any more?"

The paper suggests two actions based on its findings. First, it recommends working to maintain the positive trajectory for the 61 to 76 percent of croplands where yield is still climbing. Second, it encourages crop-producing regions around the world to look at their yield trends and those of others to identify what’s working and what might be improved.

"Previous research suggests that many factors work together to limit yield growth, from cultivation practices to pests to a need for improved seeds," Ray said. "What this paper does is provide concrete, detailed information policy makers can use to identify regions where yield growth has stagnated or reversed, figure out what limiting factors are at play, then work to turn that trend around."

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.

At the University of Minnesota, researchers are working to secure our global food supply. These game-changing efforts are the impetus behind MnDRIVE, the university’s proposal for a new, ongoing partnership with the state to enhance Discovery, Research, InnoVation and Economic development. For more information, visit www.govrelations.umn.edu/biennial-budget.html
Contacts: Mary Hoff, Institute on the Environment, maryhoff@umn.edu,
(612) 626-2670
Matt Hodson, University News Service, mjhodson@umn.edu,
(612) 625-0552

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

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>