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Yield gaps and resource use efficiency

Theme 3 - Pilot Activity

Yield gaps and resource use efficiency, led by the Netherlands

Theme Lead: Martin van Ittersum


To examine how to sustainably improve food productivity at a farm/enterprise level, through addressing yield gaps, resource use efficiencies and environmental impact. This research will attempt to answer the question:

‘‘Is it possible to define ‘sustainable’ yield levels, with an acceptable compromise between production, resource use efficiency and environmental impact?’’




Current work includes:
  • Quantify yield & water productivity gaps for major cereal crops in TempAg countries using the Global Yield Gap Atlas procedure
  • Identify underlying drivers and causes of yield gaps  

This work addresses cereal yield gaps and water productivity gaps, using previously agreed protocols and will identify influencing factors underpinning different crop yield gaps. The focus is on environmental conditions (climate and soils), crop management and socio-economic conditions.

Next steps of this activity involve:
  • Understand yield gaps in relation to efficiency, resource and technology gaps
  • Estimate trade-offs in food production, and particularly between yields, resource use efficiency and environmental impacts. Factors to be included are crop nutrients, crop protection agents, energy and associated emissions, with an aim to define what ‘sustainable’ yield levels are.
  • Look into climate extremes, risks and insurances in relation to production and resource use efficiency

Network Themes

Resilient agricultural production systems in multiple spatio-temporal levels
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Optimal land management for food production and other ecosystem services
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Sustainable improvement of food productivity in the farm and enterprise level
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Food losses and waste
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Synthesis and foresight analysis
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