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With increasing demand for food from the planet's growing population and climate change threatening the stability of food systems across the world, University of Minnesota research examined how the diversity of crops at the national level could increase the harvest stability of all crops in a nation.
The research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, examined 50 years of data (1961-2010) from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on annual yields of 176 crop species in 91 nations to determine how stable and predictable the food supply is in each country. This is the first research of its kind to examine the relationship between crop diversity and food stability at the scale of nations.
Pattern—nations - Crops - Food - Supplies - G
"We found an intriguing pattern—nations that grow more crops tend to have more stable food supplies," said G. David Tilman, co-author of this study and director of the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve in the College of Biological Sciences. "Our analysis also shows that nations with a variety of crops are less likely to experience a severe food shortage."
That type of shortage is described as a year in which a nation has a 25% or greater decline in the total yield all of its crops combined. After examining the FAO data, Tilman and Delphine Renard—a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Santa Barbara—found that:
Nations - Crop - Diversities - Food - Shortage
nations with some of the lowest crop diversities experienced a severe food shortage about every eight years;
countries with some of the highest diversities of crops experienced a severe food shortage about every 100 years;
Irrigation - Capabilities - Nations - Effects - Crop
robust irrigation capabilities in nations also have significant stabilizing effects on crop production, leading to fewer years with severe food...
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