30 Years of Experiments Predict Crop Response to Rising Atmospheric Carbon

Thanks to the University of Illinois and Lancaster University for this article. Over the past 30 years, a network of 14 long-term research facilities spanning five continents has simulated future levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) to forecast the impact on crops. Importantly, these ‘Free-Air Concentration Enrichment’ (FACE) experiments are conducted outside in real-world field conditions to capture the complex environmental factors that impact crop growth and yield. Now, a review published in Global Change Biology synthesizes 30 years of FACE data to grasp how global crop production may be impacted by rising CO2 levels and other factors. The study portends a less optimistic future than the authors’ previous review published 15 years ago in New Phytologist. “There are likely genetic solutions, should society decide to act on these—however, time is short,” said co-author Stephen Long, Ikenberry Endowed University Chair of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology at the University of Illinois.   “It’s quite shocking to go back and look at just how much CO2 concentrations have increased over the lifetime of these experiments,” said co-author Lisa Ainsworth, a research plant physiologist with the U.S. Department of Ag

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