Integrated soil-crop system management is being used on maize farms in China

Integrated soil-crop system management by Angesh Anupam

Grantham Scholars discuss the possibilities offered by integrated soil-crop system management in a Journal Club session led by Grantham Scholar Angesh Anupam.

The paper I chose for this Journal Club was Integrated soil-crop system management for food security.

Grantham Scholar Angesh Anupam.
Grantham Scholar Angesh Anupam.

The authors in this research have tried to introduce a sustainable way to increase the production of maize in China. Rapidly developing economies like China face a dual challenge. To substantially increase yields of cereal grains while at the same time reducing the major impacts of intensive agriculture.

In this research, a model-driven integrated soil-crop system management (ISSM) approach was used to increase the yield of maize to almost twice the yield from current farming practice, without increasing the use of nitrogen fertiliser.

While discussing this paper, many agreed with the authors in many regards. But there was some debate about the choice of crop. And we debated the strategies used in the research – in-season root-zone nitrogen management strategy (IRNM). This method identifies the most effective nitrogen fertiliser management tactics to ensure non-limiting nitrogen supply with minimum losses to the environment.

More than food security

The paper deal with more than food security. It also addresses some problems our planet faces. For example nitrogen pollution, which is one of the major concerns for today’s climate scientists.

The other interesting thing about this work is that it does not seem to be influenced by big corporate houses, and discusses including some generic approaches to increasing yields in the most optimised manner. A lot of researchers are going in the field of genetic modification. This blog is not intended to comment on GM, but it is clear that it is not enough to solve every problem related to food security. Hence, this kind of inclusive approach is welcome.

Policy, farmers and food security

This paper also raises a relevant policy-based questions, which should be further researched in order to make any integrated approach more effective.

For example, how can farmers obtain the information necessary to apply the ISSM system? What are the potential barriers to implementation by individual farmers? How can they be alleviated?

These questions are crucial because the actual implementation of any new approach depends upon farmers. And there are many possible tactics in order to communicate the advantages of these types of sustainable farming practices. The role of government is equally significant because it can play bridge the gap between the scientific community and farmers.

Most of the Grantham Scholars found the paper easy to go through and were able to give their own views on all the major points covered in the literature. They also found it relevant in their own research.

The main idea put forward by the authors is the need to look for sustainable ways of developing agricultural practices.

Journal Club is meet up of Grantham Scholars to discuss publications from a multidisciplinary perspective. It is part of the Grantham Scholar training programme.

Edited by Claire Moran. Photo by Los Muertos Crew from Pexels.