Related topics: plants · carbon dioxide · climate change

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Feeding the world's growing population is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. This challenge is particularly pressing in China, which has 22% of the world's population but only 7% of the global cropland. Synthetic ...

Restoring soil to address climate change

It's time to take soil seriously. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states with very high confidence in its latest report, land degradation represents "one of the biggest and most urgent challenges" that humanity ...

Fighting a mighty weed

Weeds are pesky in any situation. Now, imagine a weed so troublesome that it has mutated to resist multiple herbicides. Palmer amaranth, a member of the pigweed family, is spreading across states and growing in strength. ...

EPA approves use of bee-killing pesticide

Just days after another federal agency suspended its periodical study of honey bee populations, the EPA greenlighted the wider use of a pesticide that environmental activists warn could further decimate the pollinators.

Researchers develop 'vaccine' against attacks on machine learning

Researchers from CSIRO's Data61, the data and digital specialist arm of Australia's national science agency, have developed a world-first set of techniques to effectively 'vaccinate' algorithms against adversarial attacks, ...

Research uncovers elusive process essential to plant greening

Despite how essential plants are for life on Earth, little is known about how parts of plant cells orchestrate growth and greening. By creating mutant plants, UC Riverside researchers have uncovered a cellular communication ...

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Crop yield

In agriculture, crop yield (also known as "agricultural output") is not only a measure of the yield of cereal per unit area of land under cultivation, it is also the seed generation of the plant itself, i.e. one grain of wheat produces a stalk yielding three grain, or 1:3. The figure, 1:3 is considered by agronomists as the minimum required to substain human life: one of the three seeds must be set aside for the next planting season, the remaining two either consumed by the grower, or one for human consumption and the other for livestock feed.

Historically speaking, a major increase in crop yield took place in the early eighteenth century with the end of the ancient, wasteful cycle of the three course system of crop rotation whereby a third of the land laid fallow every year -- and hence taken out of human food, and animal feed, production. It was to be replaced by the four-course system of crop rotation, devised in England in 1730 by Viscount Charles Townshend or "Turnip" Townshend during the British Agricultural Revolution as he was called by his early, but quickly converted, detractors. Both simple and obvious in hindsight, the new procedure was nothing short of revolutionary. In the first year wheat or oats were planted; in the second year barley or oats; in the third year clover, rye, rutabaga and/or kale was planted; in the fourth year turnips were planted but not harvested. Instead, sheep were driven on to the turnip fields to eat the crop, trample the leavings under their feet into the soil, and by doing all this, the sheep also fertilized the land with their droppings. In the fifth year (or first year of the new rotation), the cycle began once more with a planting of wheat or oats, in an average, a thirty percent increased yield.

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