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Diverse Land Cover Boosts Yields for Major U.S. Crops

Diverse land cover can boost yields for major U.S. crops like corn and wheat, a new study shows. The findings run counter to previous assumptions that suggest monoculture—or specializing in a single crop, covering larger fields, that can be harvested with bigger machines on a simplified landscape—boosts a farm’s production capacity.

“We found that in more diverse systems, corn and wheat yields can be up to 10 percent higher,” says Emory University Assistant Professor in environmental sciences Emily Burchfield. “And if you combine high diversity of land cover with more complex landscape configurations, corn and wheat yields increase by more than 20 percent.” The research, funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, has major implications for helping farmers adapt to climate change. For more information, read this Emory University eScience Commons blog.

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