You are here: Home Knowledge Base Food Security through more Intense Crop Production Virtual Library Feeding nine billion: the challenge to sustainable crop production
Symposium 2015

Virtual Library File - Feeding nine billion: the challenge to sustainable 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 co ...

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.

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.