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Closing Yield Gaps: How Sustainable Can We Be?

Pradhan P, Fischer G, van Velthuizen H, Reusser DE, Kropp JP - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: The management strategies include: fertilizers, pesticides, advanced soil management, land improvement, management strategies coping with weather induced yield variability, and improving market accessibility.Finally, we estimated the required fertilizers (N, P2O5, and K2O) to attain the potential yields.The sustainability of such agricultural intensification largely depends on the way management strategies for closing yield gaps are chosen and implemented.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany; International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.

ABSTRACT
Global food production needs to be increased by 60-110% between 2005 and 2050 to meet growing food and feed demand. Intensification and/or expansion of agriculture are the two main options available to meet the growing crop demands. Land conversion to expand cultivated land increases GHG emissions and impacts biodiversity and ecosystem services. Closing yield gaps to attain potential yields may be a viable option to increase the global crop production. Traditional methods of agricultural intensification often have negative externalities. Therefore, there is a need to explore location-specific methods of sustainable agricultural intensification. We identified regions where the achievement of potential crop calorie production on currently cultivated land will meet the present and future food demand based on scenario analyses considering population growth and changes in dietary habits. By closing yield gaps in the current irrigated and rain-fed cultivated land, about 24% and 80% more crop calories can respectively be produced compared to 2000. Most countries will reach food self-sufficiency or improve their current food self-sufficiency levels if potential crop production levels are achieved. As a novel approach, we defined specific input and agricultural management strategies required to achieve the potential production by overcoming biophysical and socioeconomic constraints causing yield gaps. The management strategies include: fertilizers, pesticides, advanced soil management, land improvement, management strategies coping with weather induced yield variability, and improving market accessibility. Finally, we estimated the required fertilizers (N, P2O5, and K2O) to attain the potential yields. Globally, N-fertilizer application needs to increase by 45-73%, P2O5-fertilizer by 22-46%, and K2O-fertilizer by 2-3 times compared to the year 2010 to attain potential crop production. The sustainability of such agricultural intensification largely depends on the way management strategies for closing yield gaps are chosen and implemented.

No MeSH data available.


Additional amounts of macro-nutrients (N, P2O5, and K2O) uptake by crop yields (Y) and crop residues (R) by attaining high-input potential yields compared to that with low-input yields, and the amount of fertilizers applied (A) in the year 2010 on a continental scale.
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pone.0129487.g006: Additional amounts of macro-nutrients (N, P2O5, and K2O) uptake by crop yields (Y) and crop residues (R) by attaining high-input potential yields compared to that with low-input yields, and the amount of fertilizers applied (A) in the year 2010 on a continental scale.

Mentions: Assuming that all other management options will result in achieving potential yields, sufficient nutrients need to be available. Globally, we estimated a net need of about 91.8 million tonnes of nitrogen fertilizers (N total nutrients) per year to replenish additional crop nutrient uptake while attaining the potential yields in the present cultivated land with the present cropping patterns (Fig 6). This nutrient need consists of uptake in crop yields and crop residues with respective values of 70.5 and 21.3 million tonnes/year. A substantial amount of fertilizer is consumed in the form of nutrient uptake in crop residues. Furthermore, a net amount of 33 million tonnes of phosphate fertilizers (P2O5 total nutrients) per year and 63 million tonnes of potash fertilizers (K2O total nutrients) per year is needed in addition. In comparison, 106, 45, and 27 million tonnes/year of N, P2O5, and K2O were applied in the year 2010 globally, respectively [29]. When considering a global fertilizer application efficiency of 50% to 60%, application of N fertilizers needs to be increased by 45% to 73%, P2O5 by 22% to 46%, and K2O by more than 2 to 3 times for attaining the potential yields compared to that of the year 2010. These required nutrients can be of organic and/or chemical origin, of which phosphorus and potassium are finite resources. Hence, closing the nutrient loop related to human sanitation is an option for providing parts of the required nutrients [40], which also reduces nutrient mining. Additionally, a high dependency on inorganic fertilizer may be problematic for achieving the potential yields as industrial fertilizer production is energy and GHG emission intensive.


Closing Yield Gaps: How Sustainable Can We Be?

Pradhan P, Fischer G, van Velthuizen H, Reusser DE, Kropp JP - PLoS ONE (2015)

Additional amounts of macro-nutrients (N, P2O5, and K2O) uptake by crop yields (Y) and crop residues (R) by attaining high-input potential yields compared to that with low-input yields, and the amount of fertilizers applied (A) in the year 2010 on a continental scale.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4470636&req=5

pone.0129487.g006: Additional amounts of macro-nutrients (N, P2O5, and K2O) uptake by crop yields (Y) and crop residues (R) by attaining high-input potential yields compared to that with low-input yields, and the amount of fertilizers applied (A) in the year 2010 on a continental scale.
Mentions: Assuming that all other management options will result in achieving potential yields, sufficient nutrients need to be available. Globally, we estimated a net need of about 91.8 million tonnes of nitrogen fertilizers (N total nutrients) per year to replenish additional crop nutrient uptake while attaining the potential yields in the present cultivated land with the present cropping patterns (Fig 6). This nutrient need consists of uptake in crop yields and crop residues with respective values of 70.5 and 21.3 million tonnes/year. A substantial amount of fertilizer is consumed in the form of nutrient uptake in crop residues. Furthermore, a net amount of 33 million tonnes of phosphate fertilizers (P2O5 total nutrients) per year and 63 million tonnes of potash fertilizers (K2O total nutrients) per year is needed in addition. In comparison, 106, 45, and 27 million tonnes/year of N, P2O5, and K2O were applied in the year 2010 globally, respectively [29]. When considering a global fertilizer application efficiency of 50% to 60%, application of N fertilizers needs to be increased by 45% to 73%, P2O5 by 22% to 46%, and K2O by more than 2 to 3 times for attaining the potential yields compared to that of the year 2010. These required nutrients can be of organic and/or chemical origin, of which phosphorus and potassium are finite resources. Hence, closing the nutrient loop related to human sanitation is an option for providing parts of the required nutrients [40], which also reduces nutrient mining. Additionally, a high dependency on inorganic fertilizer may be problematic for achieving the potential yields as industrial fertilizer production is energy and GHG emission intensive.

Bottom Line: The management strategies include: fertilizers, pesticides, advanced soil management, land improvement, management strategies coping with weather induced yield variability, and improving market accessibility.Finally, we estimated the required fertilizers (N, P2O5, and K2O) to attain the potential yields.The sustainability of such agricultural intensification largely depends on the way management strategies for closing yield gaps are chosen and implemented.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany; International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.

ABSTRACT
Global food production needs to be increased by 60-110% between 2005 and 2050 to meet growing food and feed demand. Intensification and/or expansion of agriculture are the two main options available to meet the growing crop demands. Land conversion to expand cultivated land increases GHG emissions and impacts biodiversity and ecosystem services. Closing yield gaps to attain potential yields may be a viable option to increase the global crop production. Traditional methods of agricultural intensification often have negative externalities. Therefore, there is a need to explore location-specific methods of sustainable agricultural intensification. We identified regions where the achievement of potential crop calorie production on currently cultivated land will meet the present and future food demand based on scenario analyses considering population growth and changes in dietary habits. By closing yield gaps in the current irrigated and rain-fed cultivated land, about 24% and 80% more crop calories can respectively be produced compared to 2000. Most countries will reach food self-sufficiency or improve their current food self-sufficiency levels if potential crop production levels are achieved. As a novel approach, we defined specific input and agricultural management strategies required to achieve the potential production by overcoming biophysical and socioeconomic constraints causing yield gaps. The management strategies include: fertilizers, pesticides, advanced soil management, land improvement, management strategies coping with weather induced yield variability, and improving market accessibility. Finally, we estimated the required fertilizers (N, P2O5, and K2O) to attain the potential yields. Globally, N-fertilizer application needs to increase by 45-73%, P2O5-fertilizer by 22-46%, and K2O-fertilizer by 2-3 times compared to the year 2010 to attain potential crop production. The sustainability of such agricultural intensification largely depends on the way management strategies for closing yield gaps are chosen and implemented.

No MeSH data available.