Sunday, May 28, 2023

“We have first world producers with nitrogen balance from the third world.”

“When one looks over time and is disconnected from a certain year, it is understood that in most years, our fruits and vegetables are not so limited by water as by agronomic management,” said Dr. Patricio Grassini, from the University. of Lincoln, Nebraska.

He also explained that it was not like the campaign that was done, but it is in several years. “That’s why I consider it relevant to think about what we can do from agronomy to make our results sustainable through the production system.”

Presentation by Dr. Patricio Grassini took place at the Fertility Symposium 2023 that took place in the Rosario Metropolitan Convention Center, organized by Fertilizar Asociación Civili. There, the researcher presented a macro perspective referring to the direction of agriculture at the global level, considerations and practical observations of Argentina.

What to do in most years to reduce that productivity gap?

Patricio Grassini, Argentine, Ing. from FAUBA and worked at the University of Lincoln, Nebraska for 15 years.

The future is expected to be promising for Argentina, because on the one hand we have a very wide gap in productivity to be exploited and increase productivity in the context of a greater global demand for food and more. This creates a great opportunity for Argentina to increase its productivity and benefit the economy.”

The explosion and change of diet that leads to an increase in the demand for food in the order of 50% in the last 30 years, mainly driven by the dynamics of Africa and Asia and there are no apparent short-term solutions. the term

This leads to increased pressure to increase cultivated areas to produce more food to meet the increasing demand for food. Another point is the competition between countries, by dropping barriers that increase the convenience of those countries to increase their food production. This increases the pressure to increase the area under cultivation.

First of all, we have competition between countries with barriers to trade of all kinds, which leads to a renewed interest from countries to achieve rapid food self-sufficiency.

Rice cultivation in deforested land. An example of how cultivated areas in the world are expanding to capture more food

Rice cultivation in deforested land. An example of how cultivated areas in the world are expanding to capture more food

Another consideration of the greater demand for this food results in changes in commodity prices and their volatility, which speaks of a much greater tension between demand and supply than in the years before the 2000s.

Changes in land use

“It can be seen in the changes in land use and between the 1970s and the late 2000s, we went through a period in which the cultivated area did not change, and from the 2000s onwards there was only an increase in the area. of 13 million ha/year. I don’t know if they have any idea what this trend represents. We don’t make enough food, fiber, sugar and oil on arable land.”

“We are expanding more than in all the history of civilization, and many times the expansion is happening at the expense of the systems that we have to maintain. Like the expansion of palm trees in Indonesia, the forest is cleared to plant palm oil, and this happens all over the world. It could be in Congo, Brazil or Argentina” .

sustainable intensity

The process of intensification of sustainability refers to “trying to achieve a yield close to potential, better efficiency in the use of water, nutrients and energy. It tries to reduce the environmental impact per unit of product that we have, and to make a profit because at the end of the day this is a business”.

Gaps: the difference between potential and current yield. Factors that determine these differences.

Gaps: the difference between potential and current yield. Factors that determine these differences.

“In our program we try to yield through agronomic management,” he said. The project seeks to put solutions in a technological package with which in a relatively short time a large impact can be generated in such a way. Feed the world, do more and do it in a sustainable way.

“It is difficult to know if we will be able to feed the world with the culture we have now, if we do not know what is the space of fruits, if we do not know what is the capacity for us to produce more; the land is available, it is growing.”

Global Gap Atlas

With these data, we started in 2011 to develop the Global Gap Atlas, trying to estimate the gaps for the most important production systems in the world, now, the atlas includes 70 countries, reaching almost the entire coverage for rice, corn and soybeans. and almost wheat, if at all, we lack Russia.

It is known that the yield gap in Argentina for cereals represents about 41% of the potential yield, while for soybeans the gap is 1/3.

“With this information, we compare with other countries producing the same crops, the average dose of nitrogen and phosphorus of the most fertile corn, wheat and soybeans. Hell”.

For a North American yield of about 11 tons ha, 180 kg/ha of nitrogen are required and the nitrogen applied in that field is 160 kg/ha. In Argentina we have a yield of 11 tons/ha and some 180 to 190 kg/ha of nitrogen required. The big difference is that the average fertilizer application in Argentina is 3 times less than in the US. It is difficult to imagine that the production gap in Argentina will be closed with these fertilizers.

There are 70 countries that contribute to the preparation of the global atlas of yield gaps for the main crops.

There are 70 countries that contribute to the preparation of the Global Atlas of yield gaps for the main crops.

If we compare the doses of nutrients removed with the grain and calculate their partial nutrient balance, it can be seen that the balance is negative in all cases in Argentina. For example, in Argentina, the average balance for corn is 75 kg/ha of nitrogen per year, and the same mission is seen for all nutrients and all crops.

Argentina produces about 8 tons of corn with about 60 kg/ha, we have the first producers with the scale of the third world producers. And in this context, Argentina cannot aspire to close the yielding gap with the most negative nutrient balances in the world.

If an estimate of extra nutrients above what is currently used is required to yield the estimated target of 80% of the potential for the three main crops in Argentina, we find that the current doses are doubled and even tripled. . For example, in corn, it is necessary to go from a dose of 59 kg/ha of nitrogen to about 140 kg/ha, and the same in other nutrients and other crops.

The empirical evidence is that in the three main crops this gap yields, at least half of the gap seen in Argentina, and can be closed in a cost-effective manner, which is perhaps the most important.

It compares to engaging

It is possible that a negative environmental impact from a greater addition of nitrogen to the soil may also be generated by additional losses of this nutrient. But it is also possible to think about the impact of having a balance of less than 40 kg/ha of nitrogen per year, which is much more negative than those additional losses.

Gaps in south america: corn between 30 and 60% potential yield, wheat between 30 and 65% potential yield, soybean between 25 and 50% potential yield.

Gaps in South America: corn between 30 and 60% potential yield, wheat between 30 and 65% potential yield, soybean between 25 and 50% potential yield.

The losses of a very small element in our agriculture are of more concern to the North American or European producer than to Argentina.

“The agronomic challenge for today’s generations is huge, because we are not in a globally sustainable trajectory of the limits of obtaining food security and protecting the environment. The first is to increase and yield and reduce the negative environmental impact with explicit and measurable goals.”

“Priority options that have a high probability of contributing to the intensification goals in a reasonable time and at an appropriate scale. Quantifying performance gaps and identifying their causes is an essential step in guiding R&D programs and government innovations,” he said. Patrick Grassini

see also

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