• Open Access

The relative contributions of changes in yield and land area to increasing crop output


Warwick Lywood, e-mail: warwick.lywood@ensusgroup.com


Global average yields of the world's main food crops have increased over the past 50 years, and these yield increases have varied over time. For most crops, yields have grown significantly faster during periods of higher demand growth, and the contribution of yield growth to output growth has varied between crops. These variations reflect the range of measures available to growers to enhance yields of each crop, which are typically not fully deployed during periods of low demand growth and low relative price. This paper applies two methods using consistent, long-term historic relationships to demonstrate that crop yield, area and price changes are not independent, and that area changes and yield changes in response to market signals are different for different crops and regions. One of these methods is used to show the expected percentages of exogenous estimates of overall demand growth that will be met by yield growth and by land use change for a range of biofuel crops. The estimated percentage of incremental output growth delivered by yield growth is 78% for EU cereals, with the remainder being met by area growth.