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.
|Contact: Mary Hoff|
University of Minnesota