Closing yield gaps for rice self-sufficiency in China.
ABSTRACT: China produces 28% of global rice supply and is currently self-sufficient despite a massive rural-to-urban demographic transition that drives intense competition for land and water resources. At issue is whether it will remain self-sufficient, which depends on the potential to raise yields on existing rice land. Here we report a detailed spatial analysis of rice production potential in China and evaluate scenarios to 2030. We find that China is likely to remain self-sufficient in rice assuming current yield and consumption trajectories and no reduction in production area. A focus on increasing yields of double-rice systems on general, and in three single-rice provinces where yield gaps are relatively large, would provide greatest return on investments in research and development to remain self-sufficient. Discrepancies between results from our detailed bottom-up yield-gap analysis and those derived following a top-down methodology show that the two approaches would result in very different research and development priorities.
Project description:After a remarkable 86% increase in cereal production from 1980 to 2005, recent crop yield growth in China has been slow. County level crop production data between 1980 and 2010 from eastern and middle China were used to analyze spatial and temporal patterns of rice, wheat and maize yield in five major farming systems that include around 90% of China's cereal production. Site-specific yield trends were assessed in areas where those crops have experienced increasing yield or where yields have stagnated or declined. We find that rice yields have continued to increase on over 12.3 million hectares (m. ha) or 41.8% of the rice area in China between 1980 and 2010. However, yields stagnated on 50% of the rice area (around 14.7 m. ha) over this time period. Wheat yields increased on 13.8 m. ha (58.2% of the total harvest area), but stagnated on around 3.8 m. ha (15.8% of the harvest area). Yields increased on a smaller proportion of the maize area (17.7% of harvest area, 5.3 m. ha), while yields have stagnated on over 54% (16.3 m. ha). Many parts of the lowland rice and upland intensive sub-tropical farming systems were more prone to stagnation with rice, the upland intensive sub-tropical system with wheat, and maize in the temperate mixed system. Large areas where wheat yield continues to rise were found in the lowland rice and temperate mixed systems. Land and water constraints, climate variability, and other environmental limitations undermine increased crop yield and agricultural productivity in these systems and threaten future food security. Technology and policy innovations must be implemented to promote crop yields and the sustainable use of agricultural resources to maintain food security in China. In many production regions it is possible to better match the crop with input resources to raise crop yields and benefits. Investments may be especially useful to intensify production in areas where yields continue to improve. For example, increased support to maize production in southern China, where yields are still rising, seems justified.
Project description:OBJECTIVE: China's food production has increased 6-fold during the past half-century, thanks to increased yields resulting from the management intensification, accomplished through greater inputs of fertilizer, water, new crop strains, and other Green Revolution's technologies. Yet, changes in underlying quality of soils and their effects on yield increase remain to be determined. Here, we provide a first attempt to quantify historical changes in inherent soil productivity and their contributions to the increase in yield. METHODS: The assessment was conducted based on data-set derived from 7410 on-farm trials, 8 long-term experiments and an inventory of soil organic matter concentrations of arable land. RESULTS: Results show that even without organic and inorganic fertilizer addition crop yield from on-farm trials conducted in the 2000s was significantly higher compared with those in the 1980s - the increase ranged from 0.73 to 1.76 Mg/ha for China's major irrigated cereal-based cropping systems. The increase in on-farm yield in control plot since 1980s was due primarily to the enhancement of soil-related factors, and reflected inherent soil productivity improvement. The latter led to higher and stable yield with adoption of improved management practices, and contributed 43% to the increase in yield for wheat and 22% for maize in the north China, and, 31%, 35% and 22% for early and late rice in south China and for single rice crop in the Yangtze River Basin since 1980. CONCLUSIONS: Thus, without an improvement in inherent soil productivity, the 'Agricultural Miracle in China' would not have happened. A comprehensive strategy of inherent soil productivity improvement in China, accomplished through combining engineering-based measures with biological-approaches, may be an important lesson for the developing world. We propose that advancing food security in 21st century for both China and other parts of world will depend on continuously improving inherent soil productivity.
Project description:Rice yield have been affected by the increased extreme precipitation events in recent decades. Yet, the spatio-temporal patterns of extreme precipitation by rice type and phenology remain elusive. Here, we investigate the characteristics of four extreme precipitation indices across China's rice paddy and their potential association with crop yields, by using hourly precipitation data from 1,215 stations and rice phenology observations from 45 sub-regions. The data indicate that hourly extreme precipitation have significantly increased in 1961-2012 for single rice and early rice in China but not for late rice. Rice were mainly exposed to extreme precipitation from transplantation to flowering stages. The frequency and proportion of extreme precipitation were significantly increased by 2.0-4.7% and 2.3-2.9% per decade, respectively, mainly in south China and Yangtze River Basin. The precipitation intensity and maximum hourly precipitation were increased by 0.7-1.1% and 0.9-2.8% per decade, respectively, mainly in central China and southeast coastal area. These extreme precipitation indices played a role as important as accumulated precipitation and mean temperature on the interannual variability of rice yields, regardless of rice types. Our results also highlight the urgencies to uncover the underlying mechanisms of extreme precipitation on rice growth, which in turn strengthens the predictability of crop models.
Project description:China is one of the most heavily polluted nations and is also the largest agricultural producer. There are relatively few studies measuring the effects of pollution on crop yields in China, and most are based on experiments or simulation methods. We use observational data to study the impact of increased air pollution (surface ozone) on rice yields in Southeast China. We examine nonlinearities in the relationship between rice yields and ozone concentrations and find that an additional day with a maximum ozone concentration greater than 120?ppb is associated with a yield loss of 1.12%?±?0.83% relative to a day with maximum ozone concentration less than 60?ppb. We find that increases in mean ozone concentrations, SUM60, and AOT40 during panicle formation are associated with statistically significant yield losses, whereas such increases before and after panicle formation are not. We conclude that heightened surface ozone levels will potentially lead to reductions in rice yields that are large enough to have implications for the global rice market.
Project description:Water resources support more than 60 million people in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) and are important for food security-especially rice production-and economic security. This study aims to quantify water yield under near- and long-term climate scenarios and assess the potential impacts on rice cultivation. The InVEST model (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs) forecasted water yield, and land evaluation was used to delineate suitability classes. Pattern-downscaled climate data were specially generated for the LMB. Predicted annual water yields for 2030 and 2060, derived from a drier overall scenario in combination with medium and high greenhouse gas emissions, indicated a reduction of 9-24% from baseline (average 1986-2005) runoff. In contrast, increased seasonality and wetter rainfall scenarios increased annual runoff by 6-26%. Extreme drought decreased suitability of transplanted rice cultivation by 3%, and rice production would be reduced by 4.2 and 4%, with and without irrigation projects, relative to baseline. Greatest rice reduction was predicted for Thailand, followed by Lao PDR and Cambodia, and was stable for Vietnam. Rice production in the LMB appears sufficient to feed the LMB population in 2030, while rice production in Lao PDR and Cambodia are not expected to be sufficient for domestic consumption, largely due to steep topography and sandy soils as well as drought. Four adaptation measures to minimize climate impacts (i.e., irrigation, changing the planting calendar, new rice varieties, and alternative crops) are discussed.
Project description:Bangladesh faces huge challenges in achieving food security due to its high population, diet changes, and limited room for expanding cropland and cropping intensity. The objective of this study is to assess the degree to which Bangladesh can be self-sufficient in terms of domestic maize, rice and wheat production by the years 2030 and 2050 by closing the existing gap (Yg) between yield potential (Yp) and actual farm yield (Ya), accounting for possible changes in cropland area. Yield potential and yield gaps were calculated for the three crops using well-validated crop models and site-specific weather, management and soil data, and upscaled to the whole country. We assessed potential grain production in the years 2030 and 2050 for six land use change scenarios (general decrease in arable land; declining ground water tables in the north; cropping of fallow areas in the south; effect of sea level rise; increased cropping intensity; and larger share of cash crops) and three levels of Yg closure (1: no yield increase; 2: Yg closure at a level equivalent to 50% (50% Yg closure); 3: Yg closure to a level of 85% of Yp (irrigated crops) and 80% of water-limited yield potential or Yw (rainfed crops) (full Yg closure)). In addition, changes in demand with low and high population growth rates, and substitution of rice by maize in future diets were also examined. Total aggregated demand of the three cereals (in milled rice equivalents) in 2030 and 2050, based on the UN median population variant, is projected to be 21 and 24% higher than in 2010. Current Yg represent 50% (irrigated rice), 48-63% (rainfed rice), 49% (irrigated wheat), 40% (rainfed wheat), 46% (irrigated maize), and 44% (rainfed maize) of their Yp or Yw. With 50% Yg closure and for various land use changes, self-sufficiency ratio will be > 1 for rice in 2030 and about one in 2050 but well below one for maize and wheat in both 2030 and 2050. With full Yg closure, self-sufficiency ratios will be well above one for rice and all three cereals jointly but below one for maize and wheat for all scenarios, except for the scenario with drastic decrease in boro rice area to allow for area expansion for cash crops. Full Yg closure of all cereals is needed to compensate for area decreases and demand increases, and then even some maize and large amounts of wheat imports will be required to satisfy demand in future. The results of this analysis have important implications for Bangladesh and other countries with high population growth rate, shrinking arable land due to rapid urbanization, and highly vulnerable to climate change.
Project description:We aimed at quantifying the extent to which agricultural management practices linked to animal production and land use affect environmental outcomes at a larger scale. Two practices closely linked to farm environmental performance at a larger scale are farming intensity, often resulting in greater off-farm environmental impacts (land, non-renewable energy use etc.) associated with the production of imported inputs (e.g. concentrates, fertilizer); and the degree of self-sufficiency, i.e. the farm's capacity to produce goods from its own resources, with higher control over nutrient recycling and thus minimization of losses to the environment, often resulting in greater on-farm impacts (eutrophication, acidification etc.). We explored the relationship of these practices with farm environmental performance for 185 French specialized dairy farms. We used Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling to build, and relate, latent variables of environmental performance, intensification and self-sufficiency. Proxy indicators reflected the latent variables for intensification (milk yield/cow, use of maize silage etc.) and self-sufficiency (home-grown feed/total feed use, on-farm energy/total energy use etc.). Environmental performance was represented by an aggregate 'eco-efficiency' score per farm derived from a Data Envelopment Analysis model fed with LCA and farm output data. The dataset was split into two spatially heterogeneous (bio-physical conditions, production patterns) regions. For both regions, eco-efficiency was significantly negatively related with milk yield/cow and the use of maize silage and imported concentrates. However, these results might not necessarily hold for intensive yet more self-sufficient farms. This requires further investigation with latent variables for intensification and self-sufficiency that do not largely overlap- a modelling challenge that occurred here. We conclude that the environmental 'sustainability' of intensive dairy farming depends on particular farming systems and circumstances, although we note that more self-sufficient farms may be preferable when they may benefit from relatively low land prices and agri-environment schemes aimed at maintaining grasslands.
Project description:Because rice feeds half of the world's population, a secure global food supply depends on sustainable rice production. Here we test whether the co-cultivation of rice and fish into one "rice-fish system" (RFS; fish refers to aquatic animals in this article) could help sustain rice production. We examined intensive and traditional RFSs that have been widely practiced in China. We found that rice yields did not decrease when fish yield was below a threshold value in each intensive RFS. Below the thresholds, moreover, fish yields in intensive RFSs can be substantially higher than those in traditional RFS without reducing rice yield. Relative to rice monoculture, the use of fertilizer-nitrogen and pesticides decreased, and the farmers' net income increased in RFSs. The results suggest that RFSs can help sustain rice production, and suggest that development of co-culture technologies (i.e. proper field configuration for fish and rice) is necessary to achieve the sustainability.
Project description:Maintaining and improving household food self-sufficiency (FSS) in mountain regions is an ongoing challenge. There are many facets to the issue, including comparatively high levels of land fragmentation, challenging terrain and transportation bottlenecks, declining labor availability due to out-migration, and low technical knowledge, among others. Using a nonparametric multivariate approach, we quantified primary associations underlying current levels of FSS in the mid-hills of Nepal. A needs assessment survey was administered to 77 households in Lungaun (Baglung District), Pang (Parbat District), and Pathlekhet (Myagdi District), with a total of 80 variables covering five performance areas; resulting data were analyzed using Classification and Regression Trees. The most parsimonious statistical model for household FSS highlighted associations with agronomic management, including yields of maize and fingermillet within a relay cropping system and adoption of improved crop cultivars. Secondary analyses of the variables retained in the first model again focused primarily on crop and livestock management. It thus appears that continued emphasis on technical agricultural improvements is warranted, independent of factors such as land holding size that, in any case, are very difficult to change through development interventions. Initiatives to increase household FSS in the mid-hills of Nepal will benefit from placing a primary focus on methods of agricultural intensification to improve crop yields and effective technology transfer to increase adoption of these methods.
Project description:This study is the first of its kind to quantify possible effects of climate change on rice production in Africa. We simulated impacts on rice in irrigated systems (dry season and wet season) and rainfed systems (upland and lowland). We simulated the use of rice varieties with a higher temperature sum as adaptation option. We simulated rice yields for 4 RCP climate change scenarios and identified causes of yield declines. Without adaptation, shortening of the growing period due to higher temperatures had a negative impact on yields (-24% in RCP 8.5 in 2070 compared with the baseline year 2000). With varieties that have a high temperature sum, the length of the growing period would remain the same as under the baseline conditions. With this adaptation option rainfed rice yields would increase slightly (+8%) but they remain subject to water availability constraints. Irrigated rice yields in East Africa would increase (+25%) due to more favourable temperatures and due to CO2 fertilization. Wet season irrigated rice yields in West Africa were projected to change by -21% or +7% (without/with adaptation). Without adaptation irrigated rice yields in West Africa in the dry season would decrease by -45% with adaptation they would decrease significantly less (-15%). The main cause of this decline was reduced photosynthesis at extremely high temperatures. Simulated heat sterility hardly increased and was not found a major cause for yield decline. The implications for these findings are as follows. For East Africa to benefit from climate change, improved water and nutrient management will be needed to benefit fully from the more favourable temperatures and increased CO2 concentrations. For West Africa, more research is needed on photosynthesis processes at extreme temperatures and on adaptation options such as shifting sowing dates.