Improving Crop Yields

Case Study from IIASA Annual Report 2011: 

With land resources – particularly land for agricultural production for food and bio-fuels – coming under increasing pressure, IIASA is working alongside policymakers to improve crop yields across the globe

In 2011 IIASA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) compiled a large number of global datasets using the newly released Agro-Ecological Zones (AEZ) methodology for application in global, regional, and national agro-resources assessments and in studies of the food, agriculture, and water sectors and of the linkages between them.

The AEZ system assists rational land-use planning based on an inventory of land resources and evaluation of the biophysical limitations and production potentials of land.

The new GAEZ v3.0 incorporates two important new global data dimensions: actual yield and production; and the gaps between actual and potential yield and production. Data sets are available from specially designated GAEZ Data Portals on the IIASA and FAO Web sites. These contain a wealth of spatial and tabular data covering five thematic areas: land resources, agro-climatic resources, agricultural suitability, potential and actual yields, and yield gaps.

GAEZ allows users to identify agricultural zones worldwide that share similar ecological conditions and produce the same crops using the same production system, but that do not have the same production levels. Thus, the reasons underlying lower production—inadequate or inappropriate agricultural practices, policies, institutions, support services and access to markets—can be identified and dealt with. GAEZ also allows areas with unused agricultural potentials to be located, where efficient expansion of food production is possible with minimum impacts on other ecosystem values.

Given the scarcity of suitable resources in some regions, growing future demand,
and the expected negative impacts of climate change, GAEZ allows users to evaluate options for wider adoption of sustainable land and water management practices in agricultural systems at risk.

FAO and IIASA have signed a technology transfer agreement, including installation of the GAEZ modeling framework at FAO, training of FAO core staff, and application of AEZ in joint regional and national studies.

The formal launch of GAEZ v3.0 Data Portals was in May 2012. A next step wiill be to set up a consortium of major users and data providers with the objective to organize dissemination, optimize regular updates and maintenance, and to coordinate further development of GAEZ.


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Last edited: 19 July 2013

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