A Vision For Sustainable Row Crop Farming
(Originally posted onApplied Mythology on 3 15/11)It has been estimated that between increasing standards of living andincreasing population, there will be 1.5 to 2 times as much demand for foodas there is today by mid century. To meet that demand without addingmore farmed land, the current farms must achieve greater productivity peracre or hectare. The challenge is to do that without increased, andhopefully decreased, environmental impact. As challenging as that sounds,I actually believe that this is possible because of a number of agriculturaladvances that have been made over the past few decades. I'm not saying itis obvious that we will get there, just that it is possible.
These Are Not My Ideas
As part of my consulting business, I have had the privilege to spend timereading hundreds of scholarly articles about agricultural sustainability.Over the past few decades there has been an extensive research effort toquantify the environmental problems/benefits of various farmingpractices. I have not conducted any of this research myself, but I have hadthe chance to digest it and learn from all the hard work that was involved.Many of the studies were based on field research over many years, often 10or more. This academic research has also been complimented by commercial innovation on the part of farm equipment companies,agricultural chemical companies, seed companies and other commercialentities. The most important aspect of this innovation cycle is thatprogressive farmers have tested, integrated, and perfected the new farmingoptions that flow from the academic/commercial activity.What emerges from all of this effort is a vision of the kind of agriculturethat could not only feed the world, but do it in an age of climate change andwith far less impact on the environment than has been the case in the past.