It is not a secret to all of us that our population is growing by each second. With this fact, ballpark figure shows that the global population will then reach 9.6 billion by 2050. That is roughly about an extra billion of mouths to feed come a decade. So how will the Agriculture sector able to face this huge and inevitable challenge especially with the additional factors such as increasing need for fresh water, limited availability of arable lands and climate change?
Simple Truth: Global Agriculture must double in the next 30 years to sustain this unavoidable population growth.
Even though most progressive nations have practiced mechanized agriculture, most survival countries are still struggling with labour-intensive and low-reward means that are mostly harassed with environmental changes and economic downturns. In addition, it can already be seen that climate change has started to negatively impact agricultural production both locally and globally. And there is this vast reality that most of the resources needed for sustaining food security are already on the verge of getting condensed. However, the main goal should remain that farms must continue to preserve the environment even with running efforts to increase food production. This cannot be merely done considering today’s existing farm practices.
Agriculture was able to feed the people for thousands of years and confidently will do so for the next thousand years more.
Being a farmer responsible for this upcoming challenge in our field, I delve into quite a few researches as to what the Agriculture sector has prepared for this colossal undertaking come the future. There are already certain visions, specific new trends and modern advancements being further discussed and studied by the experts.
Farming the desert
There is a big future in growing food in the desert using the abundant supply of seawater close by. This can be possibly done by creating seawater greenhouses that are equipped with prevailing winds, fans and simple evaporators to convert seawater into fresh creating a humid environment where plants can successfully grow.
With today’s technology advancement, GPS-powered tractors will be able to apply fertilizer and water seeds with sub-inch accuracy. Some experts have designed a system of underground soil sensors that are planted in the field and beam data using low-frequency signals. These sensors will constantly measure temperature, moisture and nutrient data and will pass on the information wirelessly to a central computer. This will greatly aid farmers in exacting the amount and application of fertilizer because temperature and water will provide information about the cycling of nitrogen and carbon through the soil that will result to a material savings on fertilizer and other important resources.
Some continents, particularly Africa struggles with food security. There are thousands of people in there that remains malnourished. They rely on cassava as their staple food because it is relatively cheap and is not difficult to grow even in worst conditions. However, cassava is mostly deficient in vitamins and minerals that are much needed by the human body. Scientists are now seeking ways to develop cassava as the powerbar of the vegetable world. They will develop a cassava variety with more nutrients, extra virus resistance, longer shelf-life and no cyanide-producing toxins in the roots.
It is a common knowledge for all of us that fertilizer has exponentially helped increased crop yields for many decades now. However, on-going process has been done by some experts to innovate fertilizers into man-made ones by using microbes. About 300 naturally occurring soil microbes were combined and found out to simultaneously trim down the need for phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizers; protect plants against pathogens and increase yields for every crop. This new microbe-based fertilizer is self-sustaining and more affordable.
Arable lands are of limited amount in most nations and will continue to become one in the next several years. Vertical farming is a good solution especially to urban areas because it enables people to cultivate plants within enthusiastic and mix-use skyscrapers. By using techniques similar to that of glass houses, vertical farms can supplement natural light through the use of energy-efficient lighting. Vertical farming offers a lot of benefits which include year-round crop production, protection from weather, lesser transport cost and support urban food independence.
The farming sector has witnessed quite a lot of evolutions for the past hundred years because of its growing market to cater. Surely, it will survive some more years, even tougher to address certain demands. However, the real challenge of producing nutritious, affordable and good quality food remains constant. The answer to this huge challenge of providing double results with limited resources is always technology. It boils down to successfully managing complexities and correspondingly increasing efficiencies. It will create a solution that prioritizes in limiting waste and maximizing production while preserving the environment.