Future food security depends on a variety of factors – but better soil data could substantially help improve projections of future crop yields, a new study shows.

To project how much food can be produced in the future, researchers use agricultural models that estimate crop yield, or how much of a crop can be produced in a certain amount of space. These models take into account factors like climate and weather variability, irrigation, fertiliser, and soil type. A new study published in the journal Nature Communications shows that the type of soil used in such a model can often outweigh the effects of weather variability - such as year to year changes in rainfall and temperature.

The study is the first global assessment of the importance of soils in global crop models. In particular, it shows that for yield projections in regions that use little fertiliser or irrigation - often poorer regions with many small farms - crop yield variability related to soil type can be larger than yield variability due to weather. In places where farmers use a large amount of fertiliser, the impact of soil type was smaller.
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Source: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

    21-06-2016 00:00