Agronomic gain: definition, approach, and application
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Saito, K., Six, J., Komatsu, S., Snapp, S., Rosenstock, T., Arouna, A., ... & Vanlauwe, B. (2021). Agronomic gain: definition, approach, and application. Field Crops Research, 270, 108193: 1-15.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/114408
Meeting future global staple crop demand requires continual productivity improvement. Many performance indicators have been proposed to track and measure the increase in productivity while minimizing environmental degradation. However, their use has lagged behind theory, and has not been uniform across crops in different geographies. The consequence is an uneven understanding of opportunities for sustainable intensification. Simple but robust key performance indicators (KPIs) are needed to standardize knowledge across crops and geographies. This paper defines a new term ‘agronomic gain’ based on an improvement in KPIs, including productivity, resource use efficiencies, and soil health that a specific single or combination of agronomic practices delivers under certain environmental conditions. We apply the concept of agronomic gain to the different stages of science-based agronomic innovations and provide a description of different approaches used to assess agronomic gain including yield gap assessment, meta-data analysis, on-station and on-farm studies, impact assessment, panel studies, and use of subnational and national statistics for assessing KPIs at different stages. We mainly focus on studies on rice in sub-Saharan Africa, where large yield gaps exist. Rice is one of the most important staple food crops and plays an essential role in food security in this region. Our analysis identifies major challenges in the assessment of agronomic gain, including differentiating agronomic gain from genetic gain, unreliable in-person interviews, and assessment of some KPIs at a larger scale. To overcome these challenges, we suggest to (i) conduct multi-environment trials for assessing variety × agronomic practice × environment interaction on KPIs, and (ii) develop novel approaches for assessing KPIs, through development of indirect methods using remote-sensing technology, mobile devices for systematized site characterization, and establishment of empirical relationships among KPIs or between agronomic practices and KPIs.
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