Increasing plant population density will be critical to growing yields in U.S. corn production, but increasing this density will be dependent on the economics farmers face as they seek to increase yields, according to a new report released today by researchers at the Rabobank International Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group. The report, titled “Crowding The Fields,” finds it likely we’ll see one to two years of stagnant plant population growth due to high input costs and dry soils in the U.S.
The report finds the key areas where future problems are becoming measurable in more dense plant populations include: a lack of adequate precision in planting equipment, fertilization practices which can encourage non-uniform plant growth, and insufficient spacing for root systems to develop. Each of these factors alone present serious challenges to long term growth in the corn yield curve. However, taken together, these obstacles are capable of severely restricting yield growth potential over the long term.