Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that reducing the number of leaves on soybean plants can increase crop yield by eight percent. In replicated trials on the Urbana campus, researchers removed up to one third of the emerging leaves on soybeans to boost yield.
Project lead Praveen Kumar, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the U of I, says producing more food without using more land is vital.
“We are probably maxed out in terms of available arable lands, so we really need a different strategy to increase productivity.”
Kumar says by investing less of its energy in leaves … the soybean plant can produce more seeds. He says farmers will need to produce at least 70% more food by the year 2050 to feed the growing world population.
This research was published this month in the journal “Global Change Biology.”