Using a forest-based machine learning algorithm, Jill Deines, Sherrie Wang, and David Lobell find that increased corn yields in the U.S. from long-term conservation tillage practices match the whole 2018 output of South Africa, Indonesia, Russia or Nigeria.
“Scientists have used modern technology to show that an ancient approach to agriculture may be the best. Satellite imagery of nine US corn belt states – covering around one million square kilometres – and soybeans in three states shows that reducing crop tillage (ploughing) produces notably greater yields of both crops over the longer term. The practice, known as “conservation tillage”, is a key principle of conservation agriculture that seeks to revitalise soil and, in turn, improve long-term crop productivity.”
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