7 Alarming Factors That Can Reduce Crop Yield

For a farmer, the ultimate goal is to achieve the maximum yield from the crops. Mostly, a farmer can lose up to 80% of his yield. You might wonder what are the factors that can reduce crop yield. Well, most of the time there are multiple factors that lead up to this loss. It can be due to insect attack, presence of weeds and herbs which compete with your crop for nutrition, lack of soil fertility, water loss, drought conditions, or even poor management by the farmers.

In this article, I would highlight some of these factors that can be the cause of your yield reduction. Consequently, learn here, how to increase your crop yield. I will help you to overcome these reasons and provide you with suggestions that be helpful for an increase in production.

How We Lose Our Crop Yield:

A yield is a measure of how much something produces, and is usually expressed in terms of kilograms or kilograms per hectare. The factors that could have an impact on a crop’s yield can be divided into two groups:

  • Environmental Factors
  • Agricultural Factors

Environmental Factors:

These factors include climate, soil type, geographic location and agricultural practices.

Agricultural Practices:

These yield factors include tillage methods and irrigation methods. These can be used to estimate yields for a given input level or health status for example when calculating profitability or sustainability indicators such as gross margin ratios or maintenance cost percentage 

Yield is usually related to profit margins because it provides an indication of how much profit can be expected from different types of farming operations. The higher the yield, the less land is required to achieve a desired level of production. 

Smaller farms are generally less expensive to operate than larger farms and so use of yield data can be used to estimate what size of farm is needed to meet a particular level of production. Yield can also be used as a tool in estimating total farm costs or net present value.

In many instances it is important that a region within an area report yields separately from other regions within that area because in these cases production practices are different. But there are many other factors that can reduce crop yield, and we’ve discussed some of them below:

Factors That Can Reduce Crop Yield:

These are as follows:

Soil Fertility:

Soil fertility is the factor that reduces crop yield most. It is essential for healthy crops to have fertile soil. Without this fertility, it may be hard for a plant to produce food and reproduce. Fertile soil contains

  • Microorganisms
  • Organic matter (dead plant and animal tissue)
  • Nutrients in chemical form
  • Clay particles
  •  Air space
  •  Water

In order for these factors to be present, there has to be biodiversity in the ecosystem. If biodiversity declines so does fertilizer content in the soil because decomposition will slow down or stop altogether resulting in less nutrients available for plants when they need them.

Soil fertility can also reduce crop yield by affecting other factors like sunlight penetration or emergence . If soil fertility is reduced, the crop’s ability to absorb sunlight decreases which may cause problems like inadequate photosynthesis and crop yield reduction. 

Water Loss:

Water Loss as a factor of yield loss
Water Loss as a factor of yield loss

Water loss can also affect crop yield. If plants are watered more, their root system may become stronger and stronger causing the plant to break through the soil surface. Plants that break through the soil surface cannot access water and nutrients. The plant will not be able to grow as well and therefore produce fewer calories per unit of available water, or less food/crops.

When plants are irrigated they can also lose a large amount of biomass as well as nutrients which contributes to fertilizer loss in the soil. It is useful to irrigate crops on a regular basis when there is no water in the soil. This way the soil is allowed to dry to prevent waterlogging and promote good drainage. 

Some plants can’t tolerate water loss well and will die if they lose too much water. So, when there is not enough rain to support a crop, it is important to irrigate with as little water as possible so that the crops do not die. 

When there is too much water in the soil, a plant’s roots may grow at an improper angle enabling them to soak up more nutrients . If this happens, more of the nutrients from fertilizer are used instead of being available for growth and photosynthesis. This could result in greater food production but could also result in a reduction because of greater fertilizer use.

Insect and Pest Levels:

Insect pest reducing yield
Insect pest reducing yield

Insect and pest levels reduce crop yield. If a plant has pests and/or insects, it can reduce crop yield, not as heavily but they still limit the amount of food that is available to the plant. 

In North America, insects can damage crops by eating, infecting or destroying the plants, or producing toxins that make the allergenic properties of certain plants worse. 

Insects in an area are usually not controlled in a specific way unless there is a need for large scale production. However, there are several methods for controlling small scale insects (weeds) and pests (small bushes).

Insects and pests can easily destroy fields of crops if a farmer does not have adequate knowledge about the amount of damage that a pest/insect can cause which will result in reducing crop yield. Insects and pests can also be controlled with pesticides but it will have adverse effects on non-targeted organisms

Competition From Weeds and Natural Flora:

Weed competition from natural flora can also reduce crop yield if it is not controlled. – However, with proper knowledge and that of the farmer, crops can be grown without weeds. 

If weeds are not destroyed, they could crowd out crops and block sunlight from reaching the soil causing a reduction in crop yield. 

Best steps to control the weed are following:

  • Identify weed species. 
  • Determine the amount of aggressive plants using a weed detection kit
  • Identify the best herbicide to use according to the type of weeds you are controlling. 
  • Utilize ground preparation practices to reduce your herbicide application.

– Some weeds may be difficult to kill or control but with sufficient knowledge and resources, produce crops without paying attention to weeds or removing them. 

If natural flora is not controlled properly then pests and/or insects could have more limited access to food.

Crop Rotation:

You might wonder what is crop rotation? Crop rotation is a farming technique that involves an orderly sequence of crops, with each crop grown in the same field only once. In general, a soil-enriching crop like alfalfa should be grown in the same place every year, while nitrogen fixing crops like clover are rotated to the different parts of the field. Crop rotation also can help reduce pest and disease problems by providing different growing environments for each category of organism.

Crop rotation can reduce crop yield. Rotation is a way of avoiding pests and weeds. Crops that are grown together may compete with each other, reducing the quality or quantity of food available for the resistant crops and thereby rapidly reducing the amount of energy that is available for plant growth. 

If a farmer grows the same crops much of the time, then their productivity will be reduced by decreasing soil nutrient availability. Because pesticides do not eliminate all pests and fungi, it may still be necessary to rotate crops to prevent harmful effects on non-targeted organisms.

Drought Conditions:

Factors That Can Reduce Crop Yield
Factors That Can Reduce Crop Yield

 – Drought conditions discourage plant growth and reduce the yield of crops. In areas of high rainfall, the soil would be able to retain nutrients and water easier but in an area with low rainfall, the soil has to have a higher capacity to retain water and nutrients. If there is not enough rain or not enough water in the soil, then a crop may die due to lack of water. 

Here are some impacts of drought conditions on agriculture:

  • Droughts reduce availability of water for plants.
  • This reduction in available water leads to less irrigation and lack of moisture, which eventually reduces the soil’s ability to retain water. 
  • A lack of moisture in soil has a direct impact on root die-back, because they are unable to transport necessary nutrients up through the plant like normal, leading to stunted growth and possible death if the drought continues long enough.
  • The drier conditions also mean that plants take longer until they can start photosynthesizing properly again upon rehydration, which means lower yields even after rains return due to this delayed recovery period before full function is achieved. 
  • Inadequate rainfall leads to an increased use of water for irrigation, which in turn leads to shortages for other basic needs like domestic and industrial supplies.
  • Droughts are caused by both natural climate change and human activity.
  • The severity of a drought is dependent on the area’s distribution of rainfall and the interaction between these two factors.

– When there is not enough rain or water in the soil, less photosynthesis will occur which will result in less photosynthesis = reduced production. With less production there would be even less photosynthesis = reduced production.


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