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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2021, Vol. 20 Issue (2): 349-362    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(20)63555-9
Section 1: Using modeling method to evaluate yield and efficiency gaps Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
Yield gap and resource utilization efficiency of three major food crops in the world - A review
RONG Liang-bing1, 2, 3, GONG Kai-yuan1, 2, 3, DUAN Feng-ying3, LI Shao-kun3, ZHAO Ming3, HE Jianqiang2, 4, 5, ZHOU Wen-bin3, YU Qiang2, 6, 7
1 College of Natural Resources and Environment, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, P.R.China 
2 State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, P.R.China 
3 Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, P.R.China 
4 Key Laboratory for Agricultural Soil and Water Engineering in Arid Area, Ministry of Education, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, P.R.China 
5 Institute of Water-Saving Agriculture in Arid Areas of China, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, P.R.China 
6 School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia 
7 College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, P.R.China
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Abstract  Yield gap analysis could provide management suggestions to increase crop yields, while the understandings of resource utilization efficiency could help judge the rationality of the management. Based on more than 110 published papers and data from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, and the Global Yield Gap and Water Productivity Atlas (, this study summarized the concept, quantitative method of yield gap, yield-limiting factors, and resource utilization efficiency of the three major food crops (wheat, maize and rice). Currently, global potential yields of wheat, maize and rice were 7.7, 10.4 and 8.5 t ha–1, respectively. However, actual yields of wheat, maize and rice were just 4.1, 5.5 and 4.0 t ha–1, respectively. Climate, nutrients, moisture, crop varieties, planting dates, and socioeconomic conditions are the most mentioned yield-limiting factors. In terms of resource utilization, nitrogen utilization, water utilization, and radiation utilization efficiencies are still not optimal, and this review has summarized the main improvement measures. The current research focuses on quantitative potential yield and yield gap, with a rough explanation of yield-limiting factors. Subsequent research should use remote sensing data to improve the accuracy of the regional scale and use machine learning to quantify the role of yield-limiting factors in yield gaps and the impact of change crop management on resource utilization efficiency, so as to propose reasonable and effective measures to close yield gaps.
Keywords:  food crops       yield       yield gap       resource utilization efficiency       yield-limiting factor  
Received: 14 November 2020   Accepted:
Fund: This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0300100), the Innovation Program of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Elite Youth Program of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science. We thank Prof. Yang Xiaoguang (China Agricultural University) for thoughtful comments on this manuscript.
Corresponding Authors:  ZHOU Wen-bin, E-mail:; YU Qiang, E-mail:   
About author:  RONG Liang-bing, E-mail:

Cite this article: 

RONG Liang-bing, GONG Kai-yuan, DUAN Feng-ying, LI Shao-kun, ZHAO Ming, HE Jianqiang, ZHOU Wen-bin, YU Qiang. 2021. Yield gap and resource utilization efficiency of three major food crops in the world - A review. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 20(2): 349-362.

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