Related topics: plants · carbon dioxide · climate change

Replacing pesticides with ants to protect crops

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Brazil, working with one colleague from Spain and another from the U.S., has found evidence that suggests ants can be used as a natural pesticide for a wide variety ...

Artificial photosynthesis can produce food without sunshine

Photosynthesis has evolved in plants for millions of years to turn water, carbon dioxide, and the energy from sunlight into plant biomass and the foods we eat. This process, however, is very inefficient, with only about 1% ...

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 ...

Study finds new way in which plants control flower production

The timing of flowering in plants is critical. It can have profound effects on flower, fruit, and seed production, and consequently agricultural yields. This process is known to depend on daylight and temperature cues. However, ...

Lighting up the plant hormone 'command system'

Light is not only the source of a plant's energy, but also an environmental signal that instructs the growth behavior of plants. As a result, a plant's sensitivity to light is of great interest to scientists and their research ...

World phosphorous use crosses critical threshold

(PhysOrg.com) -- Recalculating the global use of phosphorous, a fertilizer linchpin of modern agriculture, a team of researchers warns that the world's stocks may soon be in short supply and that overuse in the industrialized ...

Satellite images of plants' fluorescence can predict crop yields

Cornell researchers and collaborators have developed a new framework that allows scientists to predict crop yield without the need for enormous amounts of high-quality data—which is often scarce in developing countries, ...

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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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