Overcoming Soil Productivity Constraints as Evidenced by Historic FAO Crop Trials to Improve Food Security in Africa, Latin America and SE Asia

van der Velde M, See L, You L, Fritz S, Khabarov N, & Obersteiner M (2012). Overcoming Soil Productivity Constraints as Evidenced by Historic FAO Crop Trials to Improve Food Security in Africa, Latin America and SE Asia. Poster presentation, Planet under Pressure, 26-29 March 2012, London, UK

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Abstract

Fertilizers have been essential in increasing and improving global crop productivity and food security status. Nevertheless, consumption of nutrients is unequally distributed among the world's nations. The lack of fertilizer and low crop yields in large parts of the developed world, particularly Africa, is further compounded by an increasingly unsustainable nutrient consumption ratio that has lead to soil nutrient depletion. Without maintaining adequate soil fertility levels, crop yields cannot be sustained, increase over time, or respond to improved agricultural management practices. Instead, depletion of soil nutrients without replenishment leads to a vicious cycle of insufficient food production, malnutrition and hunger: Poverty drains a soil and through this reinforces itself.

Evidence exists that increasing fertilizer use through e.g. subsidized agricultural inputs can lead to cost effective yield improvements. Importantly, improved crop productivity will not only increase yields, but also income and livelihoods.

Global assessments currently lack experimentally based information on crop responses to fertilizers, which is essential to formulate sustainable intensification pathways. Therefore, experimental data from historic FAO field trials (1969-1994) were used to understand the response of crops (including maize, wheat and millet) to nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization, and identify soil nutrient constraints in subtropical and tropical regions of Africa, Latin America and SE Asia. For maize, for instance, over 14.000 field trials were analyzed with the Mitscherlich-Baule crop response function. Crop response functions capture crop nutrient response, and allow deducing attainable crop production levels provided that local socio-economic constraints are known. Maize yield response was generally stronger to P-fertilizer compared to N-fertilizer - especially in wetter regions - confirming that many soils in subtropical and tropical regions suffer from P supply problems. Adequate soil nutrient management and restoration of soil nutrient status is critical to maintain and improve yields, optimize soil nutrient use, and improve future food security.

Item Type: Other
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Bibliographic Reference: Poster presentation, Planet under Pressure, 26-29 March 2012, London, UK
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:47
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2016 12:33
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/10127

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