The population is growing by the second, and as time goes on, we will need to produce more food without risking natural resources. More sustainable food production is key to making up for the pressure placed on the food system by rapid human population growth.
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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 the weather grows more and more unstable and temperatures rise and fall unpredictably farm production decreases. Constantly changing weather patterns affects how and if crops are able to grow and how much land farmers are able to utilize.
Climate change also affects how much rainfall we get. Basically, as crop production increase so does the demand for water. In situations with limited rainfall, there could be water shortages for these large crop needs. Currently, the weather trends are unpredictable. Overall, the farming process as a whole must be able to withstand rough weather and bounce back from it. Clearly, we need to find a sustainable way to create more food without risking natural resources.
CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
In order to sustain the world in the future, we need to increase agriculture efficiency. Basically, this means preserving water while ensuring it is high-quality. Additionally, maintaining soil, and becoming smarter with fertilizer usage is also key. Worldwide there is a need to produce just as much if not more food. However, this additional food need comes at the cost of fewer resources. Overall, the goals for an increase in food production need to include protection of water supplies, a reduction in land use, and a significant reduction in emissions from agriculture processes.
Studies predict that it is possible for farmers to produce more crops than they currently do today. However, data show that crop yield gaps are far from being closed. This means that farmers are not currently closing any food shortage gaps. It’s unclear whether they will in the future either. Overall, crop production depends on a variety of factors including how each individual agriculture system is managed. Not to mention, even a fully closed food shortage gap will not be enough to meet the demand for food for a long period of time. Each season farmers and producers need to re-evaluate their agricultural practices and resource use.
Here are some ideas to increase food production without harming the environment:
Grow more food on land that already has crops:
This is better for the environment in the long term rather 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. Overall, this helps to reduce the number of harmful elements released into the air.
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.
Reduce fertilizer use:
Large amounts of fertilizer are used while farming, which is not always necessary. Unfortunately increased fertilizer use does not help with closing the yield gap. In fact, studies show that 60% of nitrogen fertilizer is wasted by poor application systems. Furthermore, the U.S uses 11% more nitrogen than it even needs. Phosphorus usage is at an excess of 50% in the U.S and 36% in China.
Being smart with our food usage:
The vast majority of our food goes to the livestock. Basically, 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 we eat. Livestock consumes enough food to feed approximately four billion people. In fact, 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.
Improve Storage Methods:
Around 30% of food gets wasted. Causes for food loss include things like not being stored at the proper temperature or it is allowed to expire. Being more mindful of how food is stored and consuming things prior to expiration would go a long way in closing the food 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 people worldwide. With some major changes to 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. Overall, there are ways to increase the food supply and security in the long term. Globally we just need to be willing to make progress toward those changes.