Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Thursday 09/06/12

Studies Paint Different Prospects for Future Food Production

There are opportunities globally for farmers to increase global food production anywhere from 45% to 70% globally while reducing the impact on the environment, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota and McGill University in Montreal.

A study reported in Nature magazine last week examined the question of whether there would be both enough food to eat in 2050 and whether that can be accomplished with more limited use of both fertilizers and water.

The major highlight of the study is that there is great potential to close the "yield gap" for farmers in developing countries who

“We have often seen these two goals as a trade-off: We could either have more food, or a cleaner environment, not both,” says lead author Nathaniel Mueller, a researcher with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and a doctoral student in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. “This study shows that doesn’t have to be the case.”

According to Mueller and other researchers, farmers globally could boost crop production as much as 45-70% for most crops, though the greatest opportunities for yield improvement are outside of the United States. Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and South Asia have the greatest potential for yield growth.

Globally, we could lower nitrogen use 28% and lower phosphorus use 38% without affecting yields of corn, wheat and rice. Major producing nations for those crops such as China, the U.S., Western Europe and India have room to improve in lowering those inputs.…

Taking a more Malthusian approach, Oxfam America released a study looking at the way climate change will cause more price spikes for food in the future. Oxfam's report, "Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices," argues that the affect of climate change on future food production is being underestimated.

As we have seen over the past few years, price volatility for food hits the world's poorest people the hardest. Higher food prices not only cause more hunger, but affect political stability in developing countries as well.

Oxfam questions the findings of modeling when examining climate change. Price shocks may be considered low, as well as projected yields as extreme weather intensifies and becomes more frequent.

Some findings include:

Another extreme drought in 2030 in the U.S. would drive up the global price for corn as much as 140%. That is highlighted because over the next two decades dependence is expected to grow on U.S. exports of corn and wheat, Oxfam stated.

Moreover, climate change will cause more weather shocks in sub-Saharan Africa, spiking prices of corn, millet and sorghum.…

I can be found on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 10:43AM CDT 09/06/12 by Chris Clayton
Comments (2)
News flash for you worried about 2050 food supplies, if money doesn't return to food commodity producers, then worry about 2013 and 2014. Your livestock supply infrastructure is in dire straits now. So looking at 2050 is good, but the unexpected worry will be the one that gets you. For you the good doer climate changer, if you lived in third world country and your family is starving, would you be worried about co2 imaginary gas? I'll anwer that, heck no!
Posted by Frank Thomas at 6:00PM CDT 09/06/12
No way can 1st world societies continue the growth we have, not enough oil, phosphorous, copper or water,,,, numbers just don't work! At current rate China alone will be consuming what the entire world uses now! Yes the 3rd world does mind climate change as their droughts are more life threatening then ours, they won't understand why our over consumption should mean their death. Prepare for more revolutions and " Arab springs",,,,, it's not about them wanting democracy it's about them not wanting to starve.
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 6:49AM CDT 09/07/12
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