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Home / Events / Food for All Talks 07 – “The Global Yield Gap Atlas”
Food for All Talks 07 – “The Global Yield Gap Atlas”
Food for All Talks 06
Tuesday April 10, 2018 Image: F&BKP Office
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


April 10, 2018
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Online webinar

The World Bank Group’s Agriculture Global Practice is organizing a series of Food for All Talks under the WBG-Netherlands Partnership “Food for All”. In this seventh edition, Patricio Grassini from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Martin van Ittersum from Wageningen University will give a lecture on “The Global Yield Gap Atlas”. The event takes place on Tuesday April 10, 2018 (12:15 – 13:45 AM EST in Washington DC || 18:15 – 19:45 pm CET in the Netherlands) and can also be attended globally through WebEx (see below for details). 

The world must produce substantially more food to meet increasing demand for agricultural products. However, the regional implications of this challenge vary enormously across the globe due to large differences in both magnitude of the rise in demand and in the potential to increase food production to meet it. Measuring crop production performance at local to national scale in an objective manner, and any improvements due to policies and investments in the agricultural sector, is made difficult by large differences in endogenous biophysical factors such as climate and soil that have a large influence on crop yields, input requirements, and resilience to variable climate. Two performance metrics allow objective comparisons across such variation: (i) the yield gap, defined as the difference between current farm yield and the potential yield that can be achieved when crops are grown with optimal nutrient supply and protection against pests, and (ii) yield stability as quantified by the degree of year-to-year yield variation due to variation in rainfall and temperature.

Both of these metrics are evaluated in the Global Yield Gap Atlas (GYGA; www.yieldgap.org) across local-to-national and continental scales within an agronomically relevant spatial framework that allows quantification of comparative advantages with respect to yield potential and yield stability. GYGA is an international project initiated by researchers from University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA) and Wageningen University (The Netherlands) in 2011. The Atlas has been developed for ca. 55 countries across five continents, and includes all major cereal crops. Recently, the crop list has been extended to include soybean, sugarcane, and potatoes. We are also adding information on water productivity and nutrient requirements. As the Atlas provides open access to all underpinning weather, soil and agronomic data, the database is a unique starting point for all sorts of scientific, strategic and applied questions. For example, GYGA can be used to improve impact assessment of past agricultural development investments because evaluating progress in terms of closing yield gaps and increasing yield stability from baseline levels avoids the bias from differences in climate and soil, and short-term weather patterns. The Atlas can also be used in a similar manner for ex ante impact assessment and prioritization of investments, as well as a foundation for studies aiming to explain and mitigate yield gaps and investigate impact of climate change, land use, and environmental footprint of agriculture.

Food for All Talk 07

In this lecture, Patricio Grassini from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Martin van Ittersum from Wageningen University will shed their light on the Global Yield Gap Atlas.
The lecture is chaired by David Nielson, Lead Agriculture Economist, Agriculture Global Practice and discussants are Michael Morris, Lead Agricultural Economist, Agriculture Global Practice and Alejandro Nin Pratt, Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute.

How to join

Join Using WebEx: Meeting password: UGsAMRX6; Meeting number:  733 166 769.

Join Using Phone: Toll: 1-650-479-3207; Access code: 733 166 769.

By Video Conference55770010@worldbank.org, External IP:; followed by internal dial-in number 55770010.

Background information

Patricio Grassini. Narrowing the gap between actual and potential crop yield is one of several research interests for Patricio Grassini, assistant professor in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. Grassini is leading a project to benchmark on-farm yields and input-use efficiencies in irrigated corn and soybean systems in Nebraska, looking for opportunities to improve producer profits while protecting the environment. He also is contributing to development of a Global Yield Gap Atlas, an international effort to identify gaps between actual and potential yield for major cropping systems. His research interests include crop physiology, yield potential, simulation modeling, and resource- and energy-use efficiency across a diverse range of cropping systems, including dryland crops in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa and high-yield irrigated corn and soybean in the U.S. Corn Belt.  Grassini received his B.S. in agricultural engineering from the University of Buenos Aires in 2007. He was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and a Fling Fellowship to pursue his doctorate in agronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied with agronomist Ken Cassman.

Martin van Ittersum holds a PhD (1992) in Agricultural and Environmental Science from Wageningen University. He is a professor at the Plant Production Systems group of the same university. His research and teaching focus on research concepts and methods for the analysis, design and integrated assessment of agricultural systems from field to farm, regional and global level. He has led and is leading a large number of (inter)national projects dealing with global food availability, integrated assessment of agricultural systems, yield gap analysis, phosphorus scarcity and climate change. He was the coordinator of the SEAMLESS project: System for Environmental and Agricultural Modelling; Linking European Science and Society; an EU FP6 project (2005-2009) with 30 universities and approx. 150 researchers. Currently he is co-leading the Global Yield Gap Atlas project (funded by the Gates foundation www.yieldgap.org) and a large strategic programme of Wageningen University aiming to map options for sustainable intensification. He has been co-editor-in-chief of Agricultural Systems, is member of several editorial boards and guest-edited more than 10 special issues and books. In 2013 he was the co-chair of the 1st International Conference on Global Food Security.

Food for All Talks

The Food for All Talks is a series initiated by the Food for All Partnership of the World Bank Group and the Netherlands. They deliver new insights on strategic issues and operational questions around agriculture and food value chains for the WBG. For more information, visit the Food for All webpage.

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