Food Productivity Trends from Hybrid Corn: Statistical Analysis of Patents and Field-test data
In this research we study productivity trends of hybrid corn - an important subdomain of food production. We estimate the yearly rate of yield improvement of hybrid corn (measured as bushel per acre) by using both information on yields contained in US patent documents for patented hybrid corn varieties and on field-test data of several hybrid corn varieties performed at US State level. We have used a generalization of Moore's law to fit productivity trends and obtain the performance improvement rate by analyzing time series of hybrid corn performance for a period covering the last thirty years. The linear regressions results obtained from different data sources indicate that the estimated improvement rates per year are between 1.2 and 2.4 percent. In particular, using yields reported in a sample of patents filed between 1985 and 2010, we estimated an improvement rate of 0.015 (R2 = 0.74, Pvalue = 1.37 x 10^-8). Moreover, we apply two predicting models developed by Benson and Magee (2015) and Triulzi and Magee (2016) that only use patent metadata to estimate the rate of improvement. We compare these predicted values to the rate estimated using US States field-test data. We find that, due to a turning point in patenting practices which begun in 2008, only the predicted rate (rate = 0.015) using patents filed before 2008 is consistent with the empirical rate. Finally, we also investigate at the micro level - on the basis of 70 patents (granted between 1986 and 2015) - whether the number of citations received by a patent is correlated with performance achieved by the patented variety. We find that the relative performance (yield ratio) of the patented seed is positively correlated with the total number of citations received by the patent (until December 2015) but not the citations received within 3 years after the granted year, with the patent application year used as control variable.
- Pub Date:
- June 2017
- Quantitative Finance - Economics