Act Now to Ensure the World's Food Supply Huge Advances in Crop Productivity Have Ended, and Arable Land under Cultivation Is at Maximum; It's a Time for Careful Planning

By Keith Barrons. Keith Barrons is an agricultural consultant and of the 1992 book on global food security "A Catastrophe " | The Christian Science Monitor, May 31, 1994 | Go to article overview

Act Now to Ensure the World's Food Supply Huge Advances in Crop Productivity Have Ended, and Arable Land under Cultivation Is at Maximum; It's a Time for Careful Planning


Keith Barrons. Keith Barrons is an agricultural consultant and of the 1992 book on global food security "A Catastrophe ", The Christian Science Monitor


PHENOMENAL gains in crop yields since World War II have contributed significantly to the growth of the United States economy. Enhanced productivity per acre has assured abundance at home and enabled us to sustain a high level of grain exports to customers abroad, as well as to countries with occasional needs to supplement home-grown supplies.

By doubling or even tripling the yield of several crops, US farmers have avoided the need to expand acreage under cultivation. Thus we have the luxury of vast parks and nature preserves, spacious lawns, golf courses, and other recreational facilities. Further, in the interests of soil conservation and erosion control, much land that was once farmed is now being "given a rest."

Will the average number of bushels or tons of produce per acre continue to climb?

Long-term US Department of Agriculture (USDA) records of estimated crop yields contribute to an answer. In no year prior to 1946 did the US produce a corn yield averaging more than 35 bushels per acre. About that time, better nutrition through the use of fertilizer, superior protection against pests, and new seeds carrying genes for greater vigor began to have a combined effect.

During the 1960s, corn yields rose to an average of 71 bushels per acre and during the 1970s to 90 bushels. A high of 118 bushels per acre was reached in 1985. But the mean yield for the subsequent eight years (1986-1993) was only 112 bushels. This average includes 1992, when a phenomenal 131 bushels per acre were produced; it also includes the drought year of 1988, when only 84 bushels per acre were recorded, and 1993, when excessive rains in the Midwest dropped the average corn yield to just over 100 bushels per acre.

Looking ahead, we must recognize that adverse weather often will have the last word on yields, regardless of the use of scientific farming techniques.

A study of USDA records and similar data from other countries as published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization indicates that the rate of yield increases is tapering off wherever farmers have widely applied modern agricultural methods.

For example, during the 1960s, US wheat gained in yield over the 1950s by an average of 3.8 percent annually. That was a period when more growers began to overcome soil nutrient deficiencies with fertilizers. The gain in the 1970s over the 1960s averaged 1.9 percent per year. But since 1980, the average annual rise in yield has been a little less than 1.5 percent.

Many third-world countries have increased crop yields significantly in recent years - the so-called Green Revolution. They will continue to make further gains as more farmers use scientific crop-enhancement practices.

But where greatly increased productivity has already been achieved, recent gains are modest or negligible. Mexican farmers, for example, now obtain very good yields of wheat. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Act Now to Ensure the World's Food Supply Huge Advances in Crop Productivity Have Ended, and Arable Land under Cultivation Is at Maximum; It's a Time for Careful Planning
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.