Stanford study ties Clean Air Act improvements to yield increases

A new study says cleaner air has boosted corn and soybean yields by about 20 percent since 1999.

The Stanford-led project found about a five percent corn and soybean production loss was tied to pollution from ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

Satellite data from a nine-state region covering Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin was analyzed from 1999 to 2019, following amendments to the Clean Air Act.

Researchers say yields were clearly higher in areas further away from power plants, especially coal-burning ones, and by using high spatial resolution data found as air pollution decreased, yields grew by about 20 percent over the 20-year period.

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