Beyond this, however, stated goals diverge. 2016), implying that the projected increase must occur from today's production levels. To bring US policy in line with future needs, producers who receive subsidies should be required to meet more stringent environmental standards, conservation programs should be reformed to tie payments to quantified outcomes (Winsten and Hunter 2011), and effective regulatory backstops should be instituted to control the most environmentally damaging practices. 2013, Long et al. To smooth interannual variation, growth rates were calculated using 5-year moving average cereal yields. Our analysis shows that, largely because of recent production gains, an increase of approximately 25%–70% above current production levels may be sufficient to meet 2050 demand (figure 1a, supplemental table S1). 2016). This project was also supported by USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Agriculture grant no. 2011-67003-30343 and USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative grant no. “And the tragic recent [bushfire] events, which perhaps demonstrate how widespread change can quickly occur, will also make us want to look at that claim a little more closely.”. To quantify resource use in agriculture in 2050 virtual resource content (VRC) factors were established (Odegard, 2011). The world’s population is expected to reach 9.1 billion people in 2050, up from 7.4 billion in 2016. Approximately 795 million people are hungry today, despite adequate global food production, because poverty, lack of infrastructure, poor governance, natural disasters, and political unrest restrict food access (FAO et al. Moreover, the projections are often simplified into a goal of doubling yields, which serves as an urgent rallying cry for research, policy, and industry (Monsanto 2008, Foley et al. The second largest in the world, this dead zone reached 22,000 square kilometers (km2) in 2002 and averages 13,650 km2 per year (EPA 2016). Indirect emissions from land-use change in agriculture and forestry contribute another 12% (IPCC 2014). “There are various narratives around what the next three decades might hold for the agricultural community in Australia,” Dr Zeunert says. “It’s key that these forecasts of future scenarios reach as wide an audience as possible,” he says. [FAO] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, International Fund for Agricultural Development, World Food Programme. Cereal production increased 24% from 2005 to 2014 because of both yield improvements and the expansion of cropped area (supplemental tables S1 and S5; FAO 2016). Vision 2050 – New thinking about rural innovation in Australia 4. The technical challenge of such a fundamental transformation in production systems is daunting, and meeting both sets of goals will require navigating complex trade-offs (Robertson and Swinton 2005, Neufeldt et al. Our targets are based on the following standards: (a) SI production goals should aim to meet projected global food demand while recognizing that factors beyond aggregate production also affect hunger and malnutrition (FAO et al. Historical data are shown in solid lines, and future projections and goal trajectories are shown in dashed or dotted lines (see supplemental tables S1 and S3). Under the FAO projection, the rate of average annual cereal yield growth could fall gradually over the next 35 years and still meet demand using only existing cropland. Dr Joshua Zeunert from UNSW Built Environment. 2016). 2011, Ray et al. Although even a 25%–70% increase will be challenging, global agricultural output is at least on the right trajectory. These goals will clarify the scope of the challenges that agriculture must face in the coming decades, focus research and policy on achieving specific outcomes, and ensure that SI efforts lead to measurable environmental improvements. These will enable him to extract key indicators from text, data and mapping – which is often isolated – into spatial datasets and overlays. We call on researchers, policymakers, and farmers to embrace this recalibrated vision of sustainable intensification. All rights reserved. However, establishing clear targets will help researchers focus on these long-term challenges. Dr Zeunert became a full-time academic around 10 years ago after working in award-winning landscape architecture and urban design offices as well as casual teaching. The research enterprise led by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) should prioritize efforts to identify and meet quantitative production and environmental goals. Many authors also call for agriculture to become more environmentally sustainable, but with little urgency and few quantitative targets. Calls to double food production from today's levels are not supported by existing projections. Second, applied agricultural research should focus on developing production systems that can simultaneously meet both production and environmental targets while helping farmers adapt to a range of emerging challenges, such as mounting water shortages (Falkenmark 2013, Elliott et al. We use the most recent FAOSTAT data (FAO 2016), from 2014, as the baseline for our projections. Food demand is projected to climb, while environmental impacts must plummet. Future of agriculture Future of agriculture in 2050 Agriculture will face many challenges in the future and the growing population will require a drastic increase in food supply. 'As well as text, data and numbers, we can make visual representations of the scenarios using graphic, illustrative and spatial techniques.'. First, the FAO projection of a 60% increase is frequently misquoted as a 70% increase when authors cite an earlier FAO report (Alexandratos 2006). Projected 2050 demand for oilcrops is 46% higher than 2014 production levels based on the FAO projection and 50% higher based on a doubling from 2005 (table S2). The production of oilcrops—which account for most of the remaining calories and protein from human-edible crops—increased even more, by 39% (supplemental tables S2 and S4; FAO 2016). How can we feed this growing population and take better care of our environment? Cereals are the world's dominant crops. For both of these projections, the base year is now a decade past, and production has increased substantially in this time (table S1). Our objectives are to clarify the overarching productivity and environmental goals of SI and to recalibrate the narrative on the future of agriculture. 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Based on the information Dr Zeunert collates, he will create scenarios and use a technique called ‘scenario testing’ to seek feedback from the experts previously consulted. Our updates to the FAO (Alexandratos and Bruinsma 2012) and Tilman and colleagues’ (2011) projections indicate that production of cereals must only increase 26% and 68% from 2014 levels, respectively, to meet 2050 demand (figure 1a, table S1). 2015). The FAO also adjusted its projection to account for potential saturation of meat consumption in the largest developing country, China, and cultural factors limiting the growth of meat consumption in the second largest, India (Alexandratos and Bruinsma 2012). (b) Historical and projected direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture and 2050 goal. This, in turn, fosters a produce-at-all-costs mentality, which may exacerbate existing environmental challenges by increasing the use of fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and tillage. The hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico is fed by the Mississippi–Atchafalaya River Basin system in the central United States, where riverine nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are primarily from agricultural sources. 2013, Tittonell 2014). The FAO projected cereals demand in 2050 directly (Alexandratos and Bruinsma 2012). [MRGMWNTF] Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force. First, research is needed to specify targets in both categories. 2017). Views from experts, Sustainable intensification in agricultural systems, Yield trends are insufficient to double global crop production by 2050, Reconciling agricultural productivity and environmental integrity: A grand challenge for agriculture, Sustainable intensification of agriculture for human prosperity and global sustainability, Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health, Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture, Ecological intensification of agriculture: Sustainable by nature, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program: Food Security Program 2015 Request for Applications, USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, [USEPA] US Environmental Protection Agency, Annual Nutrient Flux and Concurrent Streamflow: Updated through Water Year 2015, Yield gap analysis with local to global relevance: A review, Leverage points for improving global food security and the environment, Using pay-for-performance conservation to address the challenges of the next farm bill. “By 2050 effective regulations may minimize the loss of agricultural productivity and lead to a more economically sustainable water system with moderate investment in infrastructure to store and move water. 2009 Developed other Developing Least Developed World 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050 Billion High Level Expert Forum - How to Feed the World in 2050 Office of the Director, Agricultural … The prevailing discourse on the future of agriculture is rife with the assertion that food production must increase dramatically—potentially doubling by 2050—to meet surging demand. Goals should reflect the updated projection that production must increase approximately 25%–70% from recent levels to meet demand in 2050. We thank Armen Kemanian, Nicholas Jordan, Adam Davis, and the three anonymous reviewers for suggestions that improved the manuscript and Emily Pia for assistance with the analysis. This error is particularly misleading when authors explicitly graph 2050 demand as a doubling from current levels (e.g., Long et al. Instead, the prevailing discourse often focuses on increasing efficiency or improving general “sustainability,” which gives the impression that marginal environmental improvements are sufficient (Petersen and Snapp 2015). Almost 90% of the world's animal species will lose some habitat to agriculture by 2050. by David Williams and Michael Clark, The Conversation. 2015, Daryanto et al. The Food and Agriculture Organisation, the United Nations’ agency charged with thinking about such matters, published a report in 2009 which suggested that by 2050 agricultural … These programs carry only minimal environmental requirements, which provide limited protection against erosion and the loss of some wetlands and grasslands, but fail to target nutrient loss, air quality, GHG emissions, and other concerns. These projections are complex and are commonly misinterpreted. 2013, Pretty and Bharucha 2014). For the project, Dr Zeunert will also interview 40 experts to canvass their views on future likelihoods. 2011, Alexandratos and Bruinsma 2012). Global agriculture towards 2050 population growth Source: UN Population Division, from van der Mensbrugghe et al. Dr Joshua Zeunert’s new project will forecast potential scenarios to inform decision-makers and help ensure our food supply security. This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant no. With a population projected to reach a staggering 9.8 billion by 2050, farmers will have to produce more food than ever before. 2011, Ray et al. Van Ittersum MK, Cassman KG, Grassini P, Wolf J, Tittonell P, Hochman Z, Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. To project the broad changes in the global farm and food system over the period 2006 to 2050, we utilize the Simplified International Model of agricultural Prices, Land use and the Environment (SIMPLE) (Baldos and Hertel 2013). Ahead several decades should not be converted for crop production ( e.g., Long et al ) and Tilman colleagues... 2015, FAO 2016 ) extended the deadline to 2035 ( MRGMWNTF 2015 ) ahead several.. To inspire action 1999, IAASTD 2009, Bommarco et al Expert Forum on to! By midcentury occur from today 's production levels may be sufficient to 2050. Vision of sustainable intensification extend beyond aggregate production and conservation strategies in food supply climate Challinor... 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