Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Original research article
15 Jan 2019
Original research article |  | 15 Jan 2019

Global meta-analysis of the relationship between soil organic matter and crop yields

Emily E. Oldfield, Mark A. Bradford, and Stephen A. Wood

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Cited articles

Adhikari, K. and Hartemink, A. E.: Linking soils to ecosystem services – A global review, Geoderma, 262, 101–111,, 2016. 
Adiku, S. G. K., Jones, J. W., Kumaga, F. K., and Tonyigah, A.: Effects of crop rotation and fallow residue management on maize growth, yield and soil carbon in a savannah-forest transition zone of Ghana, J. Agr. Sci., 147, 313–322,, 2009. 
Agegnehu, G., Bass, A. M., Nelson, P. N., and Bird, M. I.: Benefits of biochar, compost and biochar-compost for soil quality, maize yield and greenhouse gas emissions in a tropical agricultural soil, Sci. Total Environ., 543, 295–306,, 2016. 
Albizua, A., Williams, A., Hedlund, K., and Pascual, U.: Crop rotations including ley and manure can promote ecosystem services in conventional farming systems, Appl. Soil Ecol., 95, 54–61,, 2015. 
Alijani, K., Bahrani, M. J., and Kazemeini, S. A.: Short-term responses of soil and wheat yield to tillage, corn residue management and nitrogen fertilization, Soil Till. Res., 124, 78–82,, 2012. 
Short summary
In this paper, we quantify the global-level relationship between soil organic matter and crop yield. We find that greater concentrations of soil organic matter are associated with greater yields and that increases in yields saturate around 2 % SOC. Using the relationship that we generate, we then provide an estimate of the potential for soil organic matter management to reduce global yield gaps for two of the most important staple crops (maize and wheat) grown worldwide.