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Air pollution affects food security in China: taking ozone as an example

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      Air pollution is becoming an increasingly important environmental concern due to its visible negative impact on human health. However, air pollution also affects agricultural crops or food security directly or indirectly, which has not so far received sufficient attention. In this overview, we take ozone (O3) as an example to analyze the principles and extent of the impact of air pollution on food security in China based on a review of the literature. Current O 3 pollution shows a clear negative impact on food security, causing around a 10% yield decrease for major cereal crops according to a large number of field studies around the world. The mean yield decrease of winter wheat is predicted to be up to 20% in China, based on the projection of future ground-level O 3 concentration in 2020, if no pollution control measures are implemented. Strict mitigation of NO x and VOC s (two major precursors of O3) emissions is crucial for reducing the negative impacts of ground-level O 3 on food security. Breeding new crop cultivars with tolerance to high ground-level O 3 should receive serious consideration in future research programs. In addition, integrated soil-crop system management will be an important option to mitigate the negative effects of elevated ground-level O 3 on cereal crop production and food quality.

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      Most cited references 35

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      Air pollution in mega cities in China

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        Integrated soil-crop system management for food security.

        China and other rapidly developing economies face the dual challenge of substantially increasing yields of cereal grains while at the same time reducing the very substantial environmental impacts of intensive agriculture. We used a model-driven integrated soil-crop system management approach to develop a maize production system that achieved mean maize yields of 13.0 t ha(-1) on 66 on-farm experimental plots--nearly twice the yield of current farmers' practices--with no increase in N fertilizer use. Such integrated soil-crop system management systems represent a priority for agricultural research and implementation, especially in rapidly growing economies.
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          Producing more grain with lower environmental costs.

          Agriculture faces great challenges to ensure global food security by increasing yields while reducing environmental costs. Here we address this challenge by conducting a total of 153 site-year field experiments covering the main agro-ecological areas for rice, wheat and maize production in China. A set of integrated soil-crop system management practices based on a modern understanding of crop ecophysiology and soil biogeochemistry increases average yields for rice, wheat and maize from 7.2 million grams per hectare (Mg ha(-1)), 7.2 Mg ha(-1) and 10.5 Mg ha(-1) to 8.5 Mg ha(-1), 8.9 Mg ha(-1) and 14.2 Mg ha(-1), respectively, without any increase in nitrogen fertilizer. Model simulation and life-cycle assessment show that reactive nitrogen losses and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced substantially by integrated soil-crop system management. If farmers in China could achieve average grain yields equivalent to 80% of this treatment by 2030, over the same planting area as in 2012, total production of rice, wheat and maize in China would be more than enough to meet the demand for direct human consumption and a substantially increased demand for animal feed, while decreasing the environmental costs of intensive agriculture.

            Author and article information

            1. State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China
            2. College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
            Author notes
            Front. Agr. Sci. Eng.
            Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering
            Higher Education Press (4 Huixin Dongjie, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100029, China )
            : 2
            : 2
            : 152-158

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



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