Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Crop asynchrony stabilizes food production

Matters Arising to this article was published on 09 December 2020

The Original Article was published on 19 June 2019

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Crop asynchrony as a function of crop diversity and determinants of national caloric production stability.
Fig. 2: National crop asynchrony and caloric production stability worldwide.

Data availability

All datasets used and generated during this study are provided in a public repository: https://github.com/legli/AgriculturalStability.

Code availability

The codes used for data preparation and analyses are provided in a public repository: https://github.com/legli/AgriculturalStability.

References

  1. Renard, D. & Tilman, D. National food production stabilized by crop diversity. Nature 571, 257–260 (2019).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Mehrabi, Z. & Ramankutty, N. Synchronized failure of global crop production. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 3, 780–786 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Cottrell, R. S. et al. Food production shocks across land and sea. Nat. Sustain. 2, 130–137 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Statistics (FAO, accessed 22 November 2019); https://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/.

  5. Marshall, M. G. Codebook: Major Episodes of Political Violence (MEPV) and Conflict Regions, 1946–2015. http://www.systemicpeace.org/inscr/MEPVcodebook2016.pdf (2016).

  6. Klein Goldewijk, K., Beusen, A., Doelman, J. & Stehfest, E. New anthropogenic land use estimates for the Holocene – HYDE 3.2. Earth Syst. Sci. Data 9, 927–953 (2017).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Sacks, W. J., Deryng, D. & Foley, J. A. Crop planting dates: an analysis of global patterns. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 19, 607–620 (2010).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Willmott, C. J. & Matsuura, K. Terrestrial Air Temperature and Precipitation: Monthly and Annual Time Series (1950–1999). http://climate.geog.udel.edu/~climate/html_pages/README.ghcn_ts2.html (2001).

  9. Food balance sheets: A handbook (FAO, 2001).

  10. R Core Team. R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, 2019).

  11. Loreau, M. & de Mazancourt, C. Species synchrony and its drivers: neutral and nonneutral community dynamics in fluctuating environments. Am. Nat. 172, E48–E66 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Hallett, L. M. et al. codyn : An R package of community dynamics metrics. Methods Ecol. Evol. 7, 1146–1151 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Khoury, C. K. et al. Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 4001–4006 (2014).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Bates, D., Mächler, M., Bolker, B. M. & Walker, S. C. Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. J. Stat. Softw. 67, 1–48 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Knapp, S. & van der Heijden, M. G. A. A global meta-analysis of yield stability in organic and conservation agriculture. Nat. Commun. 9, 3632 (2018).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

L.E. acknowledges funding from the Helmholtz Association (Research School ESCALATE, VH-KO-613). We thank V. Grimm for discussions; M. Wu for statistical support and D. Renard for discussions and the exchange of code to make our analysis clearer and more consistent. The FAOSTAT database is maintained and regularly updated by FAO with regular support from its Member States.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

L.E., M.S., T.T. and R.S. designed the study. L.E. and C.S. performed the analysis. All authors wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lukas Egli.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Fig. 1 Main determinants of national caloric production stability.

ah, Effects of crop diversity (a), crop asynchrony (b), irrigation (c), nitrogen use intensity (d), temperature instability (e), precipitation instability (f), warfare (g) and time (h) on caloric production stability. Results are shown for the linear regression models including crop diversity (green), crop asynchrony (blue) and both (orange) (n = 590). Irrigation and nitrogen use intensity were back-transformed from square-root-transformation, predicted values were back-transformed from log-transformation. Predictions were calculated using the observed range of the focal predictor, while keeping all the other predictors at their mean values. Shaded areas represent 95% confidence intervals. The figure was created with the statistical software package R 3.6.110.

Extended Data Table 1 Data sources underlying the analyses
Extended Data Table 2 Determinants of national caloric production stability

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Egli, L., Schröter, M., Scherber, C. et al. Crop asynchrony stabilizes food production. Nature 588, E7–E12 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2965-6

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2965-6

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing