Patricio Grassini discusses the potential to feed the world without more deforestation and conversion of wetlands to agriculture. He is Sunkist Distinguished Professor of Agronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and co-leader of The Global Yield Gap Atlas, the world’s leading database describing 13 major food crops. If the human population continues on its current growth path, the World Resources Institute estimates we will need 56% more food without expanding farmlands, which are typically carved out of forested areas critical to reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. We also discuss the potential impact of climate change on crop yields in the second half of the century.
Patricio has published many studies in Nature and other journals over the past decade about the potential to close crop yield gaps — the difference between what is currently grown and the potential maximum output for each crop and the land used to grow it. He argues the yield gaps in rice, maize, palm oil, soy, and other legumes can be closed using today’s existing farmland with more intensive use of land, known as cropping intensity, by improving pest control, and by using fertilizer. You can learn about The Global Yield Gap Atlas Project at yieldgap.org.