Right now, many smallholder farmers are trapped in subsistence, barely able to feed even themselves with what they grow. In fact, one half of the one billion malnourished people in the world are smallholder farmers or their families. For much of the world, therefore, enabling these smallholder farmers to boost the yields on their farms, produce a surplus, and create profits for reinvestment is the key to broader economic development and participation in the world economy.
All segments of society must contribute to meeting the water challenge, but agriculture—which consumes 70 percent of the world’s usable water—will need to be a big part of the solution. Fortunately, new biotech and crop protection technologies, as well as improved irrigation and other techniques, allow farmers to produce more “crop for drop,” raising agricultural yields while using dramatically less water. Making full use of modern agricultural technologies can go a long way to preserving our precious fresh water resources while we feed a growing and prospering world population in the 21st century.
"More and more, people are shelling out their hard-earned cash for what they believe are the best foods available. Imagine, people say: you can improve your nutrition while helping save the planet from the evils of conventional agriculture – a complete win-win. And who wouldn’t buy organic, when it just sounds so good?"
Christie Wilcox discusses the myths of organic farming on her blog at the Scientific American.
By 2050, we will need to double agricultural production to feed a growing population. How do we do that without further stressing our environment, bringing millions of acres of marginal land into production, decimating our natural forests and further threatening endangered species? How do we grow twice as much without further exhausting our already stressed water resources?
This paper highlights the challenges before us in the 21st century and the essential role modern agricultural technology must play in doubling production on already cultivated land. It describes how a Second Green Revolution can enable us to "grow more from less," protect our natural environment, and create the conditions for lasting food security for all the world's people.
Farmers have three ways to control weeds: by hand, by machine, and by chemicals. Soil erosion is becoming an increasingly difficult sustainability problem. Learn about how no-till agriculture can help meet this environmental challenge.
We need to double global food production by 2050 to feed a growing population – where will we get the water? Learn more about how modern agriculture can help a thirsty planet.