The potential for increasing yields exists everywhere if you ask Michael Doane. Michael is the Sustainability Team Lead for Monsanto. He spoke at the Monsanto discussion on sustainability on the 2008 Farm Progress Show last week. After his speech, I caught up with him and we spoke more about how he thinks the world will answer the global food demands of the future.
While Michael says a big portion of global food needs will be met in developing countries that have a huge potential for improving crop yields, he says there is still a lot of opportunity for increasing yields in the already yield-efficient U.S. Modern technology such as biotech, Michael says, means farmers in the U.S. still have a landscape that’s wide open with opportunity.
“If you just look at some of the yields that have been achieved in some very optimized conditions, it suggests that we’ve got a long ways to go before we’ve tapped yield potential [in the U.S.],” Michael said.
A place of great opportunity in the developing world though, is Malawi.
“Malawi is a great example,” Michael said. “Malawi is a country that wasn’t meeting itself. It’s corn yields were basically ten percent of the United States on an annual basis. Just by using hybrids, moving away from open-pollenated corn varieties to hybrids and using fertilizers, they’ve increased their yields almost four-fold in just a very short time. So rapid improvement can be made where they haven’t been using technology, but we think there’s going to be yield growth go on globally. It’s really going to depend on whether farmers are going to have new tools, and access to those tools and how liberally they can use those tools.”
It will be an effort that Michael says will move and grow within industry.
“There’s some strong scientists to scientists efforts, farmer to farmer efforts,” Michael said.”Fifteen years ago nobody had experience with technology but now the experience is there.”
Michael says more than 25 countries are using biotech crops. He adds that biotechnology is at the forefront meeting the world’s food needs.
You can listen to my interview with Michael here: fp-08-doane2.mp3
You can also download the interview with this link.
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