High yielding humans (at last)

By Tibor Hartel

Closing yield gaps in agricultural lands and / through sustainable intensification are the suggested solutions to feed the overpopulated planet. Here we highlighted some questions related to the yield gap closure.

One of them was ‘How will the closure of yield gaps affect the biodiversity and resilience of agro-ecological systems?’

Below I try a funny and potentially provocative comparison to ‘illustrate’ the above question.

Let’s assume that some researchers would like to create an ‘ultimate’ human being: which is faster, more resistant and efficient in a rapidly changing world. They found out that an increase in heart activity and blood pressure would be of critical importance for achieving this goal. They rapidly calculated a blood pressure gap which, according to them, would allow for maximization of body performance. The artificial increase of the blood pressure till the limit of body resistance but which would maximize body performance was called ‘sustainable increase of heart activity’.

Let’s, therefore, end blood pressure gaps. Any volunteers?

2 thoughts on “High yielding humans (at last)

  1. I think that this is a good analogy. Resilience comes from spare capacity. I don’t believe that the man who volunteers will be able to operate for a long period at “optimum” blood pressure. And the same applies to landscape. If yield gaps are closed we will lose resilience and long-term sustainability of productive landscapes.
    We must be very cautious about this approach.
    I consider ‘closing yield gaps’ and so-called ‘sustainable intensification’ to be one of the most critical questions facing today’s agriculture and nature conservation. It is another way of kidding ourselves that we can get more for no cost. There is always a cost, which will only become evident later, perhaps too late.
    So – I won’t volunteer thank you!

  2. Many thanks! I think, if not wisely approached (wise meaning necessarily something related to society as a whole…as well) we can end up in a kind of ‘channeling the death’ in areas of planet where there is still life.

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