The central plain of Chile: Its productive potential and problems

Rafael Novoa S-A.1, Sergio Villaseca C.1

Based on climatic and soil dato, the Central Plain of Chile was divided into four zones, to evaluate it present and future agricultural output. In each zone, the actual and potencial productivity, the population possible to feed and the hectares of various crops and pastu res required, were estimated. The decrease of available sojls dueto urban expansion, salinity, erosion and pollution, were also evaluated. Nitrogen and water were found to be the main contraints to productivity, north of San Carlos; to the south of this city, phosphorus becomes more important. The main process decreasing the production potencial is erosion, since 17% of the arable soils are already eroded. In the Metropolitan Region, urban expansion will reduce by 50% the available soils, by 2050. lf yield and population increases are kept at their present rates, a generalized food deficit will occur around 2050. Wheat and potato production capacity will be exhausted first. ln order to attain self sufficiency in those two crops, by the year 2000, a big effort will be required. It was estimated that 27 million people can be fed by the potential agricultu rol production of the Chi- lean Central Piain.

1 Estación Experimental La Platina (INlA), Casilla 5427, Santiago, Chile.