You are here: Home Knowledge Base Food Security through more Intense Crop Production
Symposium 2015

Food Security through more Intense Crop Production

The Challenge

In order to secure the demand for food and biomass by a growing population, the production of biomass needs to double by 2050. Recent studies agree that better crop management on today’s cropland could increase biomass production by only about 60% (Bruinsma 2011, Tilman et al. 2011). This may be achieved by, for instance, expanding cropland, changing diets, adopting more efficient agricultural practices, or by using current cropland areas more intensively. This choice involves trade-offs. For instance, expanding cropland into non-agricultural ecosystems may reduce other ecosystem services such as biodiversity, and release greenhouse gases. Therefore, intensifying the use of current cropland areas may be a preferred option. In fact, current studies are able to identify regions where there is a capacity to intensify agricultural production (Zabel et al. 2014). Measures aimed at closing the gap between production possibilities and current production, however, are not sufficiently addressed.

In this session, we will discuss the following questions: What opportunities are there to increase crop production in different regions throughout the world? What are the obstacles to improving agricultural productivity now and in the future? Which additional measures are needed to improve food security? How can a sustainable degree of crop intensification be implemented in different regions? What is the role of international organizations, farmer associations, and extension (i.e. advisory) services in this regard?

This session is organized by Ruth Delzeit, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Please check out the tabs below for additional facts and information.

    Solutions

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Implementing site-specific agriculture to combat poverty and hunger

    Implementing site-specific agriculture to combat poverty and hunger

    Implementing site-specific agriculture to combat poverty and hunger

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Key principles for sustainability in food and agriculture - The “Save and Grow” approach—a model for sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production

    Key principles for sustainability in food and agriculture - The “Save and Grow” approach—a model for sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production

    Key principles for sustainability in food and agriculture - The “Save and Grow” approach—a model for sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Farm management, technologies and economic incentives to satisfy future food demand

    Farm management, technologies and economic incentives to satisfy future food demand

    Farm management, technologies and economic incentives to satisfy future food demand

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Food security: Contributions of a sustainable bioeconomy

    Food security: Contributions of a sustainable bioeconomy

    Food security: Contributions of a sustainable bioeconomy

    Background Paper

    Background Paper
    Symposium 2015

    Food security through more intense crop production

    Virtual Library

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    The resources outlook: by how much do land, water and crop yields need to increase by 2050?

    This paper discusses the natural resource implications of the latest FAO food and agriculture baseline projections to 2050 (FAO, 2006a). These projections offer a picture of the food and agricultural ...

    This paper discusses the natural resource implications of the latest FAO food and agriculture baseline projections to 2050 (FAO, 2006a). These projections offer a picture of the food and agricultural situation in 2030 and 2050. It does not deal with additional demand for agricultural products used as feedstock in biofuel production or the impacts of climate change, nor the additional production needed to eliminate (or to accelerate the elimination of) the remaining undernourishment in 2050.

    The report concludes that agricultural production would need to increase by 70 percent (nearly 100 percent in developing countries) by 2050 to cope with a 40 percent increase in world population and to raise average food consumption to 3130 kcal per person per day by 2050. Ninety percent (80 percent in developing countries) of the growth in crop production would be a result of higher yields and increased cropping intensity, with the remainder coming from land expansion.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Global Agricultural Land Resources – A High Resolution Suitability Evaluation and Its Perspectives until 2100 under Climate Change Conditions

    From a bio-physical perspective, this paper analyses potentially suitable areas for agricultural production under a changing climate. The study is not only done for current agricultural area, but the ...

    From a bio-physical perspective, this paper analyses potentially suitable areas for agricultural production under a changing climate. The study is not only done for current agricultural area, but the authors also compute the suitability of densely forested as well as protected areas in order to investigate their potentials for agriculture. The impact of climate change under SRES A1B conditions, as simulated by the global climate model ECHAM5, on agricultural suitability is shown by comparing the time-period of 2071–2100 to 1981–2010.

    The results show that climate change will expand suitable cropland by additionally 5.6 million km2, particularly in the Northern high latitudes (mainly in Canada, China and Russia). Most sensitive regions with decreasing suitability are found in the South, mainly in tropical regions, where also the suitability for multiple cropping decreases.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Feeding nine billion: the challenge to sustainable crop production

    This study discusses the challenge of how to increase agricultural yields while simultaneously reducing energy consumption (allied to greenhouse gas emissions) and utilizing resources such as water an ...

    This study discusses the challenge of how to increase agricultural yields while simultaneously reducing energy consumption (allied to greenhouse gas emissions) and utilizing resources such as water and phosphate more efficiently.

    The authors conclude that given the timeframe in which the increased production has to be realized, most of the increase will need to come from crop genotypes that are being bred now, together with known agronomic and management practices that are currently under-developed.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture

    This study projects global demand for crop production in 2050 and evaluates the environmental impacts of alternative ways in which this demand might be met. They key message is that an attainment of h ...

    This study projects global demand for crop production in 2050 and evaluates the environmental impacts of alternative ways in which this demand might be met. They key message is that an attainment of high yields on existing croplands of underyielding states is of great importance if global crop demand is to be met with minimal environmental impacts.

    They find that per capita demand for crops, when measured as caloric or protein content of all crops combined, has been a similarly increasing function of per capita real income since 1960. This relationship forecasts a 100 - 110% increase in global crop demand from 2005 to 2050. Quantitative assessments show that the environmental impacts of meeting this demand depend on how global agriculture expands. If current trends of greater agricultural intensification in richer states and greater land clearing (extensification) in poorer states were to continue, ∼1 billion ha of land would be cleared globally by 2050, with CO2-C equivalent greenhouse gas emissions reaching ∼3 Gt y−1 and N use ∼250 Mt y−1 by then. In contrast, if 2050 crop demand was met by moderate intensification focused on existing croplands of underyielding states, adaptation and transfer of high-yielding technologies to these croplands, and global technological improvements, our analyses forecast land clearing of only ∼0.2 billion ha, greenhouse gas emissions of ∼1 Gt y−1, and global N use of ∼225 Mt y−1. Efficient management practices could substantially lower nitrogen use.