The population is growing by the second, and as time goes on, we will need to produce even more food to make up for the pressure placed on the food system by our rapid growth. Farming utilizes a large amount of water, and certain types of farming have been known to affect the climate. Climate change is already a major issue in the world as weather grows more and more unstable and temperatures rise and fall unpredictably. This affects how and if crops are able to grow and how much land is able to be utilized by farmers. Climate change also affects how much rainfall we get, which means that the more water the crops use, the less they might have in the future. The trends are unpredictable so the farming process as a whole must be able to withstand rough weather and bounce back from it.

The population is growing by the second, and as time goes on, we will need to produce even more food to make up for the pressure placed on the food system by our rapid growth. Farming utilizes a large amount of water, and certain types of farming have been known to affect the climate. Climate change is already a major issue in the world as weather grows more and more unstable and temperatures rise and fall unpredictably. This affects how and if crops are able to grow and how much land is able to be utilized by farmers. Climate change also affects how much rainfall we get, which means that the more water the crops use, the less they might have in the future. The trends are unpredictable so the farming process as a whole must be able to withstand rough weather and bounce back from it.

CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

In order to sustain the world in the future, we need to increase agriculture efficiency. This means preserving water while ensuring it is high-quality, maintaining soil, and becoming smarter with fertilizer usage. We need to produce just as much if not more food while using less resources. This will lead to there being less land used and therefore less emissions let out into the environment from the agriculture process.

Studies predict that it is possible for farmers to produce more crops than they currently do today, but also show that yield gaps are far from being closed and the yield potential ranges anywhere from 24%-80%. This means that farmers are not currently closing any gaps, and it is unclear whether they will in the future since this depends on a variety of factors including how each individual agriculture system is managed. Not to mention, even a fully closed gap will not be enough to meet the demand for food.

Here are some things that can be done to increase food production without harming the environment:

  • Growing more food on land that already has crops: This is better for the environment in the long-term than creating new farmland in other places. The more farmers can use land that already exists as farmland, the better off the ecosystem will be, and the less harmful elements released into the air.
  • Smarter agriculture: Did you know that 20%-35% of all greenhouse gas emissions are a result of inefficient agriculture? Nitrous oxide comes from fertilizers and methane is released from livestock as well as the production of rice. Large amounts of fertilizer are used while farming, which is not necessary and does not help with closing the yield gap. Studies show that 60% of nitrogen usage is pointless and the U.S uses 11% more nitrogen than it needs. Phosphorus usage is at an excess of 50% in the U.S and 36% in China. Cutting down usage in these areas would go a long way in closing the gap.
  • Being smart with our food usage: The vast majority of our food goes to the livestock, this is due to the fact that the world as a whole continues to eat more and more meat. As a result, there has to be more food reserved for the animals that we eat. Livestock consumes enough food to feed approximately four billion people. The number of calories eaten by animals that could be used to sustain humans is called “the diet gap.” One way to produce more food is for humans to eat less livestock over time. Not only that, but around 30% of food gets wasted for other reasons, such as it not being stored in the proper temperature or it being allowed to expire. Being more mindful of this and meat consumption among other things would go a long way in closing the gap.

If we are not very careful, the world could end up in a situation where there are not enough resources to meet the needs of the people. With some major moves in agriculture as well as subtle changes in how to live our day-to-day lives, we will continue to get closer to closing the yield and diet gaps in order to increase food security in the long-term.

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