Actual and potential crop losses of eight major food and cash crops have been estimated by evaluating data from literature and field experiments. Total losses were calculated from yield reductions due to pathogens, animal pests and weeds on a regional, continental and global level. Since 1965, worldwide production of most crops has increased considerably. Simultaneously, crop losses in wheat, potatoes, barley and rice increased by 4 to 10 percent, in maize, soybean, cotton and coffee losses remained unchanged or slightly decreased. The efficacy of crop protection practices was calculated as the percentage of potential losses prevented by control. The efficacy is highest in cotton (55 percent), it reaches only 34 to 38 percent in the food crops rice, wheat and maize. The variability among cropping areas is high: In Western Europe, 61 percent of potential crop losses is prevented, in North America and Oceania 44, in all other regions 38 percent. Due to the small share of Western Europe in worldwide production of 8 percent, the efficacy of actual crop protection worldwide is only 40 percent.
In view of population growth and rising food demand crop production has to be increased substantially. As potential loss rates often increase with attainable yields high productivity largely depends on effective crop protection management. Scenarios for the production of food crops by the year 2025 in developed and in developing countries are given. Recent and future developments in crop protection can contribute to establish sustainability in agriculture and to preserve natural resources. However, although effective control methods have been developed for most biotic yield constraints, the use of crop protection products is regulated by economic considerations rather than by food demand.
population growth food supply productivity crop losses no control scenario no loss scenario