A greater diversity of crops at the national level increases the stability of a country’s harvest, say researchers in the US and France. Increasing crop diversity could potentially counter the destabilizing effects of varying amounts of rainfall (from, for example, drought and extreme heat episodes) and this increased stability would mean fewer years with dramatic harvest losses.
The researchers, led by Delphine Renard and David Tilman, obtained their result by examining the relation between crop diversity and the stability of national yield using 50 years of data on the annual yields of 176 crop species in 91 countries. “Ensuring stable food supplies is a challenge that will probably require multiple solutions,” say the researchers, who report their work in Nature. “Our results suggest that increasing national effective crop diversity may be an additional way to address this challenge.”
Read the research paper: National food production stabilized by crop diversity, Delphine Renard and David Tilman, Nature 10.1038/s41586-019-1316-y