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First-of-Its-Kind Study Shows That Diverse Landscapes Could Boost Us Crop Yields by 20%

The team found that landscapes with increased diversity produced ~17 to 18 bushels more per acre, of corn and wheat

Increasing land cover diversity in agricultural landscapes is about more than protecting nature: it could also increase crop yields across large areas of the United States by up to 20%, according to a recent Nature Food study. 

Studies at the farm-level have previously shown that incorporating diverse land cover—features like hedgerows and flower borders—onto the land can help to boost agricultural productivity. That’s because more diverse landscapes improve ecosystem health by, for instance, harboring insect life that boosts pollination, and increasing the density of organic matter that improves soil richness—which have benefits for agriculture too. 

But most studies on landscape diversification have been relatively confined to these single on-farm studies: this time, the researchers on the new paper wanted to measure the benefits at national scales.