Synergy or trade-off? A framework and application to benchmark yield, quality and revenue of potato production

Wang, N.; Reidsma, P.; Wang, Z.Q.; Ittersum, M.K. van


The concept of yield gap is well-known to benchmark yields of crops. However, quality is another major aspect that influences farm revenues and drives management. Increasing yield may not be economically viable if this is at the expense of degrading quality such that revenue is negatively influenced. This study aimed to answer the question whether yield and quality could be maximized at the same time. A framework was developed to assess crop performance based on yield, quality, and revenue. The framework includes seven steps from identifying the important quality traits to quantifying quality gaps and yield gaps and their influence on revenue. The framework enriches the yield gap notion by adding quality aspects. The concept of optimum quality (Qp) was introduced as the quality value (range) of a particular quality trait that is most desired for a specific market. The framework was applied to a case study concerning potato production for a French Fries factory in China. Three quality traits of potato were assessed (i.e., dry matter percentage, tuber size classes, and number of tubers in 10 kg). No trade-off between yield and quality was found for the tested quality traits. The results indicated that there was large scope to improve quality for some of the quality traits. The relative revenue gap (Eg-f) was large (43%), and was attributed to both the relative yield gap (Yg-f, 26%), and quality aspects (i.e., low dry matter percentage and high small tuber weight percentage). Enhancing yield towards its current maximum level (55 ton fresh matter ha−1) was associated with improvement in quality and revenue.