I’ve been looking through past articles I’ve written to select articles I think were important as we move forward in agricultural production. My time writing “No-till Notes” is winding down so I’m trying to select articles of importance.
The original version of this article was written nearly 5 years ago and I think it carries a lot of weight today. As we strive to improve the health of our soils we work with, we are banking on these healthier soils producing more per acre. These healthier soils will also become more water efficient allowing us to produce more food and fiber per acre with less water. Both our soil and water resources are really going to be pushed to the limit and it is critical that we manage them to the best of our abilities as we look to the future of production agriculture.
The United Nations estimates that the world population has now surpassed 7 billion humans living on our planet. It took 123 years, from 1804 to 1927, to go from a population of 1 billion to 2 billion people on our planet. The United Nations estimates it will take only 14 years from now to add another billion people and reach 8,000,000,000 people in world population. World population will grow an average of 78 million people per year. That is a rather amazing and sobering statistic.
The strain on our planet’s resources to cloth, feed, and supply water and building materials to this type of population growth will be immense. The majority of the world’s population and population increase is in underdeveloped countries. These countries’ natural resources are already under a heavy strain and the resources necessary to sustain these people will come from countries like our own.
Agriculture producers in the United States and other developed or developing countries are going to carry the burden of feeding this expanding world population. We are also going to be responsible for wisely utilizing our own resources so we stop depletion of our nation’s natural resources. We will be expected to produce more food and fiber for a rapidly increasing population without sacrificing our own soil and water resources.
How will this be possible? I think technology will play a role in developing higher yielding varieties of crops through plant breeding and genetic modifications. This should help us produce healthier crops which are better able to fend off disease, weed competition and insects. Technology will also develop improved herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides to improve crop performance.
I also think we will see a drastic shift towards no-till crop production systems to produce our crops. No- till crop production systems will allow us to increase the utilization of our own limited resources to produce the food and fiber for this expanding population of humans on our planet. No-till crop production systems have been shown to improve the health of the soil and decrease soil erosion, maintain or improve crop yields, better utilize precipitation from Mother Nature, and reduce groundwater depletions. All of these aspects of no-till crop production systems will be necessary as agriculture moves forward in supplying the food and fiber to this expanding world population.