Japan develops global pre-harvest crop yield forecast method

TSUKUBA, Jan. 17 ― A group of Japanese researchers has developed a new method that predicts global crop production three months before harvest, a step forward to ensure food security.

The Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, a research arm of the Tsukuba-based National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), said the new method aims to help making informed purchasing decisions for staple crops, setting appropriate food reserve level.

The announcement came at a time when climate extremes could reduce crop output and trigger food price spikes.

Climate change without adaptation can potentially affect farm livelihood and all aspects of food security. For example, Japan heavily depends on imported crops for animal feeds.

The new method predicts the yield variability over one-third of the global harvested area three months before harvest in four major crops: rice, wheat, soybeans and maize.

It uses ground crop yield data in previous years, weather parameters such as rainfall and temperature, as input variables, in one-fourth of the global cropland area.

Operation tests will start in this summer, the organization said.

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