Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in PNAS, April 19, 2011, vol. 108, no. 16, pp. 6399–6404. Copyright (c) 2011 Xin-Ping Chen, Zhen-Ling Cui, Peter M. Vitousek, Kenneth G. Cassman, Pamela A. Matson, Jin-Shun Bai, Qing-Feng Meng, Peng Hou, Shan-Chao Yue, Volker Römheld, and Fu-Suo Zhang.


China and other rapidly developing economies face the dual challenge of substantially increasing yields of cereal grains while at the same time reducing the very substantial environmental impacts of intensive agriculture. We used a model-driven integrated soil–crop system management approach to develop a maize production system that achieved mean maize yields of 13.0 t ha−1 on 66 on-farm experimental plots—nearly twice the yield of current farmers’ practices—with no increase in N fertilizer use. Such integrated soil–crop system management systems represent a priority for agricultural research and implementation, especially in rapidly growing economies.