The 1960s and 70s gave birth to the green revolution, yielding significant increases in wheat and rice. This became possible by incorporating alleles into the crop genomes that made plants hardier and more resistant to rust diseases. This prolific crop production kept food affordable for Americans until the early 21st century, when the food crisis of 2008 destabilized prices. Ever since, yield trends fall increasingly short of predicted global needs for 2050, bringing a sharp focus back on improving crop yield and resilience.
21st Century Solutions for Modern Problems
Agro-scientists are looking to not only increase crop yields but improve their resilience as well. However, this is proving to be somewhat of a challenge. Most crop stressors are abiotic in nature, such as drought. While scientists can breed crops that are resistant to drought, these same plants cannot thrive under irrigation. The current goal is to develop a crop that is not only resistant to drought but can thrive under optimal conditions as well.
The biggest challenge thus far has been speeding up improved crop yields. Some possible methods of improvement include:
- Forward genetic approach. This requires scientists to isolate genes associated with the preferred traits that improve crop yield. This allows them to select and cultivate plants with these traits, but progress is slow going.
- Reverse genetic approach. Gene cloning allows scientist to understand how certain genes function. However, even when they know which genes are responsible for abiotic resilience, they cannot be certain which gene to target for the best results. Thus far, simple changes have not led to significant increases in crop yield.
- Increase genetic diversity. Creating a cross between different types of plants can produce rare and resilient crops. For example, scientists have managed to cross an ancient wheat with wild grass to create a synthetic wheat that produces a high yield and is able to withstand drought conditions.
The most probable method to succeed is a combination of all of the above. Sharing research and genetic resources can help tremendously with field-testing. As crop problems evolve, the methods and techniques used to combat it needs to change as well. Farmers and other crop producers need to stay abreast of the latest changes and challenges facing the agribusiness industry. To learn more about improving and protecting your agribusiness, contact Cline Wood today.
This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially effective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.agribusiness risk, agribusiness tech, agriculture news, agriculture tech, biocrops