Research Article

Food for Thought: Lower-Than-Expected Crop Yield Stimulation with Rising CO2 Concentrations

Science  30 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5782, pp. 1918-1921
DOI: 10.1126/science.1114722

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Abstract

Model projections suggest that although increased temperature and decreased soil moisture will act to reduce global crop yields by 2050, the direct fertilization effect of rising carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) will offset these losses. The CO2 fertilization factors used in models to project future yields were derived from enclosure studies conducted approximately 20 years ago. Free-air concentration enrichment (FACE) technology has now facilitated large-scale trials of the major grain crops at elevated [CO2] under fully open-air field conditions. In those trials, elevated [CO2] enhanced yield by ∼50% less than in enclosure studies. This casts serious doubt on projections that rising [CO2] will fully offset losses due to climate change.

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