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Agricultural productivity is measured as the ratio of
agricultural Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled peo ...
outputs to inputs. While individual products are usually measured by weight, which is known as
crop yield In agriculture, the yield is a measurement of the amount of a crop grown, or product such as wool, meat or milk produced, per unit area of land. The seed ratio is another way of calculating yields. Innovations, such as the use of fertilizer, the cr ...
, varying products make measuring overall agricultural output difficult. Therefore, agricultural productivity is usually measured as the
market value Market may refer to: *Market (economics) *Market economy *Marketplace, a physical marketplace or public market Geography *Märket, an island shared by Finland and Sweden Art, entertainment, and media Films *''Market'' (1965 film), 1965 South K ...
of the final output. This productivity can be compared to many different types of inputs such as labour or land. Such comparisons are called partial measures of productivity. Agricultural productivity may also be measured by what is termed
total factor productivity In economics, total-factor productivity (TFP), also called ''multi-factor productivity'', is usually measured as the ratio of aggregate output (e.g., GDP) to aggregate inputs. Under some simplifying assumptions about the production technology, g ...
(TFP). This method of calculating agricultural productivity compares an index of agricultural inputs to an index of outputs. This measure of agricultural productivity was established to remedy the shortcomings of the partial measures of productivity; notably that it is often hard to identify the factors cause them to change. Changes in TFP are usually attributed to technological improvements. Agricultural productivity is an important component of
food security Food security is a measure of the availability of food and individuals' ability to access it. According the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, food security is defined as the means that all people, at all times, have physical, so ...
. Increasing agricultural productivity through sustainable practices can be an important way to decrease the amount of land needed for farming and slow
environmental degradationEighty-plus years after the abandonment of Wallaroo Mines (Kadina, South Australia), mosses">Kadina, South Australia">Wallaroo Mines (Kadina, South Australia), mosses remain the only vegetation at some spots of the site's grounds. Environmen ...
and
climate change Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century hu ...
through processes like
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical fores ...
.


Sources of agricultural productivity

Productivity is driven by changes in either agricultural technique or improvements in technology. Some sources of changes in agricultural productivity have included: *
Mechanization A water-powered mine hoist used for raising ore. This woodblock is from ''De re metallica'' by George Bauer (pen name Georgius Agricola, ca. 1555) an early mining textbook that contains numerous drawings and descriptions of mining equipment. M ...
* High yield varieties, which were the basis of the
Green revolution The Green Revolution, or the Third Agricultural Revolution, is the set of research technology transfer initiatives occurring between 1950 and the late 1960s, that increased agricultural production worldwide, beginning most markedly in the late ...
*
Fertilizer A fertilizer (American English) or fertiliser (British English; see spelling differences) is any material of natural or synthetic origin that is applied to soil or to plant tissues to supply plant nutrients. Fertilizers may be distinct from li ...
s: Primary plant nutrients:
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element with the symbol N and atomic number 7. It was first discovered and isolated by Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford in 1772. Although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Henry Cavendish had independently done so at about t ...
,
phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element with the symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly reactive, phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth. ...
and
potassium Potassium is a chemical element with the symbol K (from Neo-Latin ''kalium'') and atomic number19. Potassium is a silvery-white metal that is soft enough to be cut with a knife with little force. Potassium metal reacts rapidly with atmospheric ...

potassium
and secondary nutrients such as
sulfur Sulfur (in traditional lay Commonwealth English: sulphur) is a chemical element with the symbol S and atomic number 16. It is abundant, multivalent and nonmetallic. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecul ...
,
zinc Zinc is a chemical element with the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. Zinc is a slightly brittle metal at room temperature and has a silvery-greyish appearance when oxidation is removed. It is the first element in group 12 (IIB) of the periodic t ...
,
copper Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkish-orang ...

copper
,
manganese Manganese is a chemical element with the symbol Mn and atomic number 25. It is not found as a free element in nature; it is often found in minerals in combination with iron. Manganese is a transition metal with a multifaceted array of industria ...
,
calcium Calcium is a chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. As an alkaline earth metal, calcium is a reactive metal that forms a dark oxide-nitride layer when exposed to air. Its physical and chemical properties are most similar to i ...

calcium
,
magnesium Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg and atomic number 12. It is a shiny gray solid which bears a close physical resemblance to the other five elements in the second column (group 2, or alkaline earth metals) of the per ...
and
molybdenum Molybdenum is a chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The name is from Neo-Latin ''molybdaenum'', which is based on Ancient Greek ', meaning lead, since its ores were confused with lead ores. Molybdenum minerals have been known ...
on deficient soil *
Education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, morals, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion and directed research. Education fr ...
in management and entrepreneurial techniques to decrease fixed and variable costs and optimise manpower * Liming of acid soils to raise pH and to provide calcium and magnesium *
Irrigation Irrigation is the artificial process of applying controlled amounts of water to land to assist in production of crops. Irrigation helps to grow agricultural crops, maintain landscapes, and revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during per ...
*
Herbicide Herbicides (, ), also commonly known as weedkillers, are substances used to control unwanted plants.EPA. February 201Pesticides Industry. Sales and Usage 2006 and 2007: Market Estimates. Summary in press releasMain page for EPA reports on pestici ...
s *
Genetic engineering Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification or genetic manipulation, is the direct manipulation of an organism's genes using biotechnology. It is a set of technologies used to change the genetic makeup of cells, including the transf ...
*
Pesticide Pesticides are substances that are meant to control pests. The term pesticide includes all of the following: herbicide, insecticides (which may include insect growth regulators, termiticides, etc.) nematicide, molluscicide, piscicide, avicide, ...
s * Increased plant density *
Animal feed Animal feed is food given to domestic animals, especially livestock, in the course of animal husbandry. There are two basic types: fodder and forage. Used alone, the word ''feed'' more often refers to fodder. Animal feed is an important input to ...
made more digestible by processing * Keeping animals indoors in cold weather See:
Productivity improving technologies (historical)The productivity-improving technologies are the technological innovations that have historically increased productivity. Productivity is often measured as the ratio of (aggregate) output to (aggregate) input in the production of goods and services. ...
Section: 2.4.1: Mechanization: Agriculture, Section 2.6: Scientific agriculture.


Impact

The productivity of a region's
farm A farm is an area of land that is devoted primarily to agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food and other crops; it is the basic facility in food production. The name is used for specialised units such as arable farms ...
s is important for many reasons. Aside from providing more
food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism. Food is usually of plant, animal or fungal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is i ...
, increasing the productivity of farms affects the region's prospects for growth and competitiveness on the agricultural market,
income distributionIn economics, income distribution covers how a country's total GDP is distributed amongst its population. Economic theory and economic policy have long seen income and its distribution as a central concern. Classical economists such as Adam Smith (17 ...
and savings, and labour migration. An increase in a region's agricultural productivity implies a more efficient distribution of scarce resources. As farmers adopt new techniques and differences, the more productive farmers benefit from an increase in their welfare while farmers who are not productive enough will exit the market to seek success elsewhere. As a region's farms become more productive, its
comparative advantageThe law of comparative advantage describes how, under free trade, an agent will produce more of and consume less of a good for which they have a comparative advantage. In an economic model, agents have a comparative advantage over others in producin ...
in agricultural products increases, which means that it can produce these products at a lower
opportunity cost In microeconomic theory, opportunity cost is the loss of the benefit that ''could'' have been enjoyed if the best alternative choice was chosen. As a representation of the relationship between scarcity and choice, the objective of opportunity cost ...
than can other regions. Therefore, the region becomes more competitive on the world market, which means that it can attract more
consumer A consumer is a person or a group who intends to order, orders, or uses purchased goods, products, or services primarily for personal, social, family, household and similar needs, not directly related to entrepreneurial or business activities. ...
s since they are able to buy more of the products offered for the same amount of money. As productivity improvement leads to falling food prices, this automatically leads to increases in
real income Real income is income of individuals or nations after adjusting for inflation. It is calculated by dividing nominal income by the price level. Real variables such as real income and real GDP are variables that are measured in physical units, while ...
elsewhere. Increases in agricultural productivity lead also to agricultural growth and can help to alleviate
poverty Poverty is the state of not having enough material possessions or income for a person's basic needs. Poverty may include social, economic, and political elements. ''Absolute poverty'' is the complete lack of the means necessary to meet basic pe ...
in poor and
developing countries 450px, Example of Older Classifications by the IMF and the UN from 2008 A developing country is a country with a less developed industrial base and a low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is n ...

developing countries
, where agriculture often employs the greatest portion of the population. As farms become more productive, the wages earned by those who work in agriculture increase. At the same time,
food prices Food prices refer to the average price level for food across countries, regions and on a global scale. Food prices have an impact on producers and consumers of food. Price levels depend on the food production process, including food marketing a ...
decrease and food supplies become more stable. Labourers therefore have more money to spend on food as well as other products. This also leads to agricultural growth. People see that there is a greater opportunity to earn their living by farming and are attracted to agriculture either as owners of farms themselves or as labourers.Promoting Pro-Poor Growth: Agriculture, DAC Guidelines and Reference Series, Paris: OECD, 2006, OECD.org, 13 July 2007 (10). It is not only the people employed in agriculture who benefit from increases in agricultural productivity. Those employed in other sectors also enjoy lower food prices and a more stable food supply. Their wages may also increase.


Food security

Agricultural productivity is becoming increasingly important as the
world population upright=1.3, Population growth graph In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living, and was estimated to have reached 7,800,000,000 people . It took over 2 million years of human prehistory and history for ...

world population
continues to grow.Brown, Lester R. Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. New York City: Earth Policy Institute, 2006. As agricultural productivity grows, food prices decrease, allowing people to spend less on food, and combatting hunger.
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the second-most populous country, the seventh-largest country by land area, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Oce ...

India
, one of the world's most populous countries, has taken steps in the past decades to increase its land productivity. In the 1960s
North India North India is a loosely defined region consisting of the northern part of India. The dominant geographical features of North India are the Indus-Gangetic Plain and the Himalayas, which demarcate the region from the Tibetan Plateau and Central ...
produced only
wheat Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown is common wheat (''T. aestivum''). The archaeological rec ...

wheat
, but with the advent of the earlier maturing high-yielding wheats and
rice Rice is the seed of the grass species ''Oryza sativa'' (Asian rice) or less commonly ''Oryza glaberrima'' (African rice). The name wild rice is usually used for species of the genera ''Zizania'' and ''Porteresia'', both wild and domesticated, a ...
s, the wheat could be harvested in time to plant rice. This wheat/rice combination is now widely used throughout the
Punjab Punjab (Gurmukhi: ; Shahmukhi: ; , ; , ; ; also romanised as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, comprising areas of eastern Paki ...
,
Haryana Haryana () is a state in India located in the northern part of the country. It was carved out of the former state of East Punjab on 1 November 1966 on a linguistic basis. It is ranked 22nd in terms of area, with less than 1.4% () of India's land ...
, and parts of
Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; 'Northern Province') is a state in northern India. With roughly 200 million inhabitants, it is the most populous state in India as well as the most populous country subdivision in the world. It was created on 1 April 1937 a ...
. The wheat yield of three tons and rice yield of two tons combine for five tons of grain per
hectare The hectare (; SI symbol: ha) is a non-SI metric unit of area equal to a square with 100-metre sides (1 hm2), or 10,000 m2, and is primarily used in the measurement of land. There are 100 hectares in one square kilometre. An acre is about ...
, helping to feed India's 1.1 billion people. Higher global food prices between 2006 and 2008, primarily caused by an increasing amount
arable land Arable land (from the la, arabilis, "able to be ploughed") is any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops.''Oxford English Dictionary'', "arable, ''adj''. and ''n.''" Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2013. Alternatively, for the p ...
used for growing
biofuel Biofuel is fuel that is produced through contemporary processes from biomass, rather than by the very slow geological processes involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as oil. Since biomass technically can be used as a fuel directly (e.g ...
s and the growing economies in China and elsewhere causing an increase in demand for meat products (which are less efficient than plants in terms of land use), caused the percentage of incomes used for food to increase throughout the world, forcing families to cut back on various other expenditures such as schooling for girls. In areas of sub-Saharan Africa, a decreased agricultural productivity due to crop failures has caused starvation. On the other hand, higher global prices actually mean farmers with successful yields earn more, and this thus increases their productivity. Investing in the agricultural productivity of women in farming communities is of particular importance in boosting
economic development In the economic study of the public sector, economic and social development is the process by which the economic well-being and quality of life of a nation, region, local community, or an individual are improved according to targeted goals and obj ...
and food security in parts of the
developing world 450px, Example of Older Classifications by the IMF and the UN from 2008 A developing country is a country with a less developed industrial base and a low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is n ...
. Women in some areas of the world, for example in Africa, traditionally have less agency than men, but are often also more invested in farming in terms of time spent. They are furthermore generally more responsible for childcare, thus their productivity is more likely to translate in gains for the family as a whole.


Relation to population growth

Some critics claim that increasing agricultural productivity results in
human overpopulation Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. They are the only extant members ...
. They are argue that, like other species, human populations grow up to their
carrying capacity The carrying capacity of an environment is the maximum population size of a biological species that can be sustained by that specific environment, given the food, habitat, water, and other resources available. The carrying capacity is defined as the ...
. When a species reaches its carrying capacity, the number of poor and weak individuals who die from disease or starvation is equal to the number of individuals being added to the population via birth. Because innovation continues to improve agricultural productivity (specifically yields), however, the theoretical carrying capacity continues to increase, allowing the human population to continue to grow. These writers claim that there are too many people on Earth and that therefore growth in agricultural productivity is detrimental to the environment — if the carrying capacity was lower, the human population would reach an equilibrium at a lower number. However, unlike other animals, in humans greater development and prosperity has led to lower fecundity. Thus as productivity has increased and poverty has been reduced worldwide, population growth is declining. Research suggests we may actually face a declining world population in the future.


Inverse relationship theory

Deolalikar in 1981 investigated the theory first proposed by Sen in 1975 that in traditional, pre-modern farming in
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the second-most populous country, the seventh-largest country by land area, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Oce ...

India
, there is an inverse relationship to size of the farm and productivity, contrary to the
economy of scale 330px, As quantity of production increases from Q to Q2, the average cost of each unit decreases from C to C1. LRAC is the long-run average cost In microeconomics, economies of scale are the cost advantages that enterprises obtain due to their scale ...
found in all other types of economic activity. It is debated whether the inverse relationship actually exists. Numerous studies falsify this theory. In
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the south-west, Zambia to the north, and Mozambi ...

Zimbabwe
, policies on agrarian land reform under president
Robert Mugabe Robert Gabriel Mugabe (; ; 21 February 1924 – 6 September 2019) was a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017. He served as Leader of the Zi ...
, especially in and following 2000, split large farms into many smaller farms, and this decreased productivity. Marxist agrarian land reform in the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, in practice its governmen ...
,
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers (3.7 million m ...
and
Vietnam , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Hanoi , coordinates = , largest_city = Ho Chi Minh City , languages_type = National language , languages ...
combined small farms into larger units, this usually failed to increase productivity. Nonetheless, increasing agricultural productivity amongst
smallholder A smallholding or smallholder is a small farm operating under a small-scale agriculture model. Definitions vary widely for what constitutes a smallholder or small-scale farm, including factors such as size, food production technique or technology, ...
farms is an important way to improve farmer livelihoods in the
developing world 450px, Example of Older Classifications by the IMF and the UN from 2008 A developing country is a country with a less developed industrial base and a low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is n ...
.


Sustainable increases in productivity

Because agriculture has such large impacts on climate change and other
environmental issues Environmental issues are harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment. Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment on the individual, organizational or governmental levels, for the benefit of both ...
, intensification of agriculture, which would increase productivity per amount of land being farmed, is seen by some as an important method for
climate change mitigation Climate change mitigation consists of actions to limit global warming and its related effects. This involves reductions in human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) as well as activities that reduce their concentrations in the atmosphere. Fossil ...
, because farmers will not require more land, and are thus incentivized not to participate in further
land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or disturbance to the land perceived to be deleterious or unde ...
or
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical fores ...
. Implementing intensification through
sustainable agriculture Sustainable agriculture is farming in sustainable ways meeting society's present food and textile needs, without compromising the ability for current or future generations to meet their needs. It can be based on an understanding of ecosystem serv ...
practices makes farming more sustainable in the long term, maintaining the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs while conserving the environment. International policy, embodied in
Sustainable Development Goal 2 Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2 or Global Goal 2) aims to achieve "zero hunger". It is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2015. The official wording is: “End hunger, achieve food security and i ...

Sustainable Development Goal 2
, focusses on improving these practices at an international level. Not all
effects of climate change The effects of climate change span the physical environment, ecosystems and human societies. It also includes the economic and social changes which stem from living in a warmer world. Human-caused climate change is one of the threats to sustaina ...
will be negative on agricultural productivity. The IPCC ''
Special Report on Climate Change and Land The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL), also known as the "Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food secur ...
'' and the '' Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C'' both project mixed changes in the yields of crops as
global warming Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century hu ...

global warming
happens with some
breadbasket The breadbasket of a country or of a region is an area which, because of the richness of the soil and/or advantageous climate, produces large quantities of wheat or other grain. Rice bowl is a similar term used to refer to Southeast Asia; and Cal ...
regions becoming less productive, while other crops increase ranges and productivity.


See also

*
Agricultural expansion Agricultural expansion describes the growth of agricultural land (arable land, pastures, etc.) in the 21st century. The agricultural expansion is often explained as a direct consequence of the global increase in food and energy requirements due to ...
*
Energy efficiency in agriculture European Commission definitions Energy in general European Commission definitions of energy efficiency, are given below: * Energy efficiency: a ratio between an output of performance, service, goods or energy, and an input of energy; * Energy e ...
* Food vs. feed *
Green Revolution The Green Revolution, or the Third Agricultural Revolution, is the set of research technology transfer initiatives occurring between 1950 and the late 1960s, that increased agricultural production worldwide, beginning most markedly in the late ...
*
Mechanized agriculture Mechanised agriculture is the process of using agricultural machinery to mechanise the work of agriculture, greatly increasing farm worker productivity. In modern times, powered machinery has replaced many farm jobs formerly carried out by manual ...
*
Productivity Productivity describes various measures of the efficiency of production. Often, a productivity measure is expressed as the ratio of an aggregate output to a single input or an aggregate input used in a production process, i.e. output per unit of ...
*
Productivity improving technologies (historical)The productivity-improving technologies are the technological innovations that have historically increased productivity. Productivity is often measured as the ratio of (aggregate) output to (aggregate) input in the production of goods and services. ...
Section 4: Mechanized agriculture, Section 6: Scientific agriculture


References

{{Reflist


External links


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – www.fao.org


* ttps://web.archive.org/web/20071029160704/http://www.oecd.org/document/23/0%2C3343%2Cen_2649_37401_37426007_1_1_1_37401%2C00.html OECD Agricultural Outlook Database (2006–2015) Agricultural production Agricultural revolutions Sustainable agriculture