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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Global Food Insecurity? Lower Than Expected Crop Yield Stimulation with Rising Carbon Dioxide Concentrations)

item Long, Stephen
item Ainsworth, Elizabeth - Lisa
item Leakey, Andrew D

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2006
Publication Date: 11/14/2006
Citation: Long, S.P., Ainsworth, E.A., Leakey, A.B. 2006. Global Food Insecurity? Lower Than Expected Crop Yield Stimulation with Rising Carbon Dioxide Concentrations. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. Paper No. 140-14.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Predictions of yield for the globe's major grain and legume arable crops suggest that, with a moderate temperature increase, production may increase in the temperate zone, but decline in the tropics. In total, global food supply may show little change. This security comes from inclusion of the direct effect of rising [CO2], which significantly stimulates yield by decreasing photorespiration in C3 crops and transpiration in all crops. Evidence for a large response to [CO2] is largely based on studies made within chambers at small scales, which would be considered unacceptable for standard agronomic trials of new cultivars or agrochemicals. Yet, predictions of the globe's future food security are based on such inadequate information. Free-Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE) technology now allows investigation of the effects of rising [CO2] and ozone on field crops under fully open-air conditions at an agronomic scale. Experiments with rice, wheat, maize and soybean show smaller increases in yield than anticipated from studies in chambers. Experiments with increased ozone show large yield losses (20%) which are not accounted for in projections of global food security. These findings suggest that current projections of global food security are over-optimistic. The fertilization effect of CO2 is less than that used in many models, while rising ozone will cause large yield losses in the N. Hemisphere. Unfortunately FACE studies have been limited in geographical extent and interactive effects of CO2, ozone and temperature have yet to be studied. Without more extensive study of the effects of these changes at an agronomic scale in the open-air, our ever-more sophisticated models will continue to have feet of clay.

Last Modified: 05/28/2017
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