Researchers Offer Foresight for Crop Failures

Staff Writer
A new study finds that tracking climate patterns can help predict agriculture

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

A new study demonstrates how climate forecasts and crop forecasts can be usefully linked.

How to forecast crop failures? A new study published in the journal, Natural Climate Change, suggests the answer can come from another forecast: the weather.

The research was led by Toshichika Iizumi, PhD, from the National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences in Japan, and focused on corn, soybeans, wheat, and rice. The study built upon the foundation that “although global crop monitoring and yield prediction models…have been developed, few studies have evaluated the reliability of seasonal forecast-based cropping predictions on a global scale.”

In a time when the recurring agricultural question is, “How will we adequately feed the growing population by 2050?” this study comes as especially timely and relevant.

According to the authors, “Our findings reveal that the use of seasonal climatic forecasts to predict crop failures will be useful for monitoring global food production and will encourage the adaptation of food systems to climatic extremes.”

Of the crops analyzed, rice and wheat were the only ones reliably predictable three months in advance. However, considering that rice and wheat are two of the most important crops produced across the globe, the study’s results are substantial enough. 

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