In a recently published study, researchers at Stanford University show that reducing the presence of common air pollutant nitrogen oxide could significantly increase crop yields.
Preliminary data compiled by the Sugarcane Technology Center (CTC) for the first half of July indicate that cane yield in the current season has dropped by 14% to 68.2 t/ha compared to 79 t in 2021.
Crop productivity is potentially affected by several air pollutants, although these are usually studied in isolation. A new study by Stanford University researchers estimates that pollution reductions between 1999 and 2019 contributed to about 20% of the increase in corn and soyabeans yield gains during that period – an amount worth about US$5 billion per year.
Researchers from Australia, Germany and the US have successfully quantified the effect of climate extremes on global crop yield variations. They concluded that general extremes, like drought and heatwaves, that have occurred during the growing season of crops such as maize, rice, and soy, accounted for 20% to 49% of yield fluctuations.
In recent years, policymakers across the world have launched initiatives to increase the amount of “soil organic matter,” or SOM, as a way to improve soil health and boost agricultural production. Although SOM is considered key to soil health, its relationship with yield is contested because of local-scale differences in soils, climate, and farming systems. There is simply limited evidence that this strategy will actually improve crop output.