A new report from the International Food Policy Research Institute has examined 11 agricultural practices and technologies and how they could help farmers around the world improve the sustainability of growing maize, rice and wheat.
The report, Food Security in a World of Natural Resource Scarcity: The Role of Agricultural Technologies, was released Wednesday.
The 11 innovations profiled include: crop protection, drip irrigation, drought tolerance, heat tolerance, integrated soil fertility management, no-till farming, nutrient use efficiency, organic agriculture, precision agriculture, sprinkler irrigation, and water harvesting.
Findings from the study indicate:
• No-till farming alone could increase maize yields by 20%, but also irrigating the same no-till fields could increase maize yields by 67% in 2050.
• Nitrogen-use efficiency could increase rice crop yields by 22%, but irrigation increased the yields by another 21%.
• Heat-tolerant varieties of wheat could increase crop yields from a 17% increase to a 23% increase with irrigation.
But no single silver bullet exists, says Mark Rosegrant, lead author of the book and director of IFPRI's Environment and Production Technology Division.
"The reality is that no single agricultural technology or farming practice will provide sufficient food for the world in 2050," Rosegrant said. "Instead, we must advocate for and utilize a range of these technologies in order to maximize yields."
However, it is realistic to assume that farmers in the developing world and elsewhere would adopt a combination of technologies as they become more widely available, IFPRI says.
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