Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Future of Farming

With the growing population on Earth comes the pressure on making more food. The fact that our agriculture system today is already using more critical resources than any other activity and that it stands for the largest carbon footprint is not a good sign because agriculture is a necessity for us to have food at all.

So what are the critical resources used in farming?
- Fresh Water
- Land
- Phosphorus

Fresh water is used in a ridiculous amount for planting for example salad or cotton in the desert. This have led to a completely dried up Aral Sea for example, which you can see from the video below.

So why are we planting in the desert in the first place? I think the only logical explanation is that there was no better alternative, unfortunately a lot of rainforest is also cut-down to be used as agriculture land.

We have all heard about peak oil, but soon we might have an even more concerning peak coming up, which is the phosphorus peak. Phosphorus is used as a fertilizer in agriculture today as we cannot afford letting the soil rest. However, there are estimates that there is only 50 years left of phosphorus rock in the current mines. Phosphorus does exists around us as well, in plants and in animals but it can't be synthesized. (Source)

So for having enough food for everybody in the future we're gonna have to think and act smart. I found the following video with Jonathan Foley here. His vision is that we need to collaborate, organic farming alone might not be the answer, neither GMO nor local and seasonal food, we need a smart combination.

I think that food will be a bigger daily concern for everybody in the future and for example urban farming will probably be one of the solutions, but let's hope we can find other sustainable solutions that will not destroy the environment and that the phosphorous problem will be solved. Phosphorous could also be distributed more equally, at the moment it is distributed even more unequally than oil.

If we could find a way of not throwing away as much food as we do now in the western countries we might not need to produce so much more food either.

People are probably also, like it or not, gonna have to eat less meat as the meat production both uses more resources and produces more methane gas.

Then, of course if we could control the population growth, that should maybe have been thought about already before we reached 6 billion.

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