Like atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide, ground-level ozone is on the rise. But ozone, a noxious chemical byproduct of fossil fuel combustion, has received relatively little attention as a potential threat to corn agriculture.
Despite government regulations, ground-level ozone – an odorless gas that forms as polluting nitrogen oxides drift in sunlight across the countryside – continues to threaten crop quality and yield. In a new study, researchers quantify this loss from historical yield data for the first time. They show that over the last 30 years, ozone emissions have reduced soybean and corn yields by 5 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
The findings are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a five–year, $5.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop ozone-resistance in corn. These strains have the potential to combat the losses climate change and air pollutants have caused in crop yield. A team at the Institute for Genomic Biology in the Genomic Ecology of Global Change (GEGC) research theme will lead the research.