An ancient farming technique could stabilize crop yields under changing conditions

By | January 17, 2023

Science Alert reports:

As climates around the world grow harsher and increasingly unpredictable, concerns are increasing over our world’s food security.

Already, yields of staple crops like maize and wheat are dropping in low-latitude tropical regions and in dry and drying regions such as African drylands and parts of the Mediterranean.

Wealthy countries are far from immune. Australia experienced almost a 30 percent crop yield decline between 1990 and 2015 due to reduced rainfall.

While studying food diversity in 2011, environmental scientist Morgan Ruelle, now at Clark University, accidentally stumbled across one possible technique that could help stabilize dipping crop yields.

The once widespread practice is now only used by small farms in places like Caucasus, Greek Islands, and the Horn of Africa. Despite being incredibly simple, most of the agroecology community weren’t aware of it.

Yet farmers have been using this technique for more than 3,000 years across at least 27 countries. It may have even been what gave rise to agriculture in the first place.

The method is planting maslins – a combined mix of cereals that can include rice, millet, wheat, rye, barley and more – and harvesting them all together to be separated or used as a single product. [Continue reading…]

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