Related topics: plants · carbon dioxide · climate change

How potatoes could become sun worshippers

If there's one thing potato plants don't like, it's heat. If the temperature is too high, potato plants form significantly lower numbers of tubers, or sometimes none at all. Biochemists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität ...

New discovery could alleviate salty soil symptoms in food crops

New research published in Nature Scientific Reports (opens in new window) has found that a hormone produced by plants under stress can be applied to crops to alleviate the damage caused by salty soils. The team of researchers ...

Scientists find auroral 'speed bumps' are more complicated

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire Space Science Center find that "speed bumps" in space, which can slow down satellites orbiting closer to Earth, are more complex than originally thought.

Just how much does enhancing photosynthesis improve crop yield?

In the next two decades, crop yields need to increase dramatically to feed the growing global population. Wouldn't it be incredibly useful if we had a crystal ball to show us what are the best strategies available to increase ...

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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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