Agriculture & Food Production


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Agriculture & Food Production

  1. 1. Agriculture and Food Production “There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other is that heat comes from the furnace” --Aldo Leopold.
  2. 2. Food Security and Nutrition • global food production has stayed in front of population growth • poverty prevents people from buying or growing enough food • India is self-sufficient in food, but 1/5 of the population is malnourished • developing countries produce too little food • developing countries lack $ to import adequate food • wars and political corruption also deny people access to food • poor distribution systems hinder access to food (transportation, refrigeration, etc.)
  3. 3. Challenges to Agriculture• feed 8.9 billion people by 2050• avoid loss of biodiversity• work within finite water supplies• combat erosion and overgrazing• avoid pollution (i.e.- fertilizer: eutrophication, contamination of groundwater)• do so despite rising fuel costs Sheet Erosion
  4. 4. Three systems of food production1. croplands (77% of food, 11% of land)2. rangelands (16% of food, 29% of land)3. ocean fisheries and aquaculture (7% of food)
  5. 5. Food Production1. 30,000 edible plants in the world2. 15 plant & 8 animal species feed 90% people3. Wheat, rice, corn, potato are the majority, all are annuals4. Only 1/3 of the global population can afford meat
  6. 6. US Agriculture• Huge business (only 650,000 full time farmers, however, 2% of US population)• In total 9% of US population involved in some capacity• Annual sales of agricultural products is greater than auto, steel, housing combined• Biggest industry in US• Most is monoculture• Huge energy consumer (10 units of fossil fuel energy/1unit of food energy)
  7. 7. World Food Problems• Overnutrition and undernutrition• From 1950-1984 world food production tripled• Downside was that population growth and distribution problems continued unabated• No disagreement that we lack efficient distribution• Green and Gene Revolution place $ and technology burdens on subsistence farmers
  8. 8. Ecological effects ofagriculture• Agriculture has greater impact on air, soil, water, biodiversity than any human activity• Water, fertilizers, monoculture, pesticides• Increasing the amount of land under cultivation is not sound ecologically• Desert areas need too much water; grassland and rainforest are valuable ecologically
  9. 9. Green Revolution: Norman BorlaugAfrica, India, Asia • 1950-1970 First Revolution: High yield varieties of rice, wheat, corn • 1967-Present Second Revolution: Dwarf varieties in tropical and subtropical countries • Both of above increased yields, multiple Robert Chandler cropping • Reliance on pesticides and fertilizer
  10. 10. Threats to Increasing FoodProduction (Part 1)1. Green and Gene Revolutions still result in annual increases in overall food production2. These increases are at a much slower rate.3. Gene and Green Revolution focus on planting fewer species of high-yield plants5. Examples: India 30,000 varieties of rice. Now 75% of crop from 10 species6. In US 97% of plant varieties grown in 1940 no longer exist.7. Seed banks and root repositories preserve species not being used
  11. 11. Threats to Increasing Food Production (Part 2)1. UN-FAO estimates that 2/3 of all crops in LDC’s will be uniform strains.2. China is reaching the limit of its production capability a. Scarcity of water, degradation of cropland, erosion, salinization and water logging b. Poor air quality, expanding industrialization and population c. May need massive imports of food