Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sustainable Intensive Farming

We know the drill: 2050, 9 billion hungry people.

We think we know the solution: More conventional farming with higher yield.

Professor of Farming Systems Ecology Tittonell in Holland does not think so.

His views are that:
Increasing the efficiency of conventional farming alone will not be able to meet the quantity of food needed.

Intensified conventional farming is not sustainable in the long term.

Some of the farming should be transferred or developed from the Western world to the developing countries, where the food will be needed the most locally.

Over 90% of the ag research currently goes to conventional farming, more should go to sustainable farming.

So the solution is some form of intensive and sustainable farming, although the professor does not develop his thoughts on what he means exactly. He does mention organic and small scale farming, but it is probably not the whole solution either.

It is also not clear how the non-renewable oil would be used less in a sustainable but intensive farming scenario. Fertilizer such as nitrogen in its different forms hasn't been made from oil in decades, and diesel machinery will still need to till or no-till and plant and spray and harvest the fields, organic or conventional. Other fertilizers are mined or come from coal power plants, so I guess that's what he means, but some hard data would be welcome.

The Western world could indeed reduce farming "without affecting food security," but there would be other consequences, such as increased food prices, which Tittonell does not consider.

Besides Tittonell in Holland, the Imperial College in London and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which is having its Global Food Security Symposium in Washington D.C. next week are also supporting the notion of intensive sustainable farming as the best answer to address the food needs of the developing world, in a more practical and pragmatic way.

Meanwhile in Congress...

Oregon senator Schrader mentioned the "O" word. No, not our President, but "Organic," the Orror. What ensued was Owful. He Olmost got beaten to a pulp, as if organic farming does not exist or does not have a place in farming. So I'm guessing, no support for intensive sustainable farming in the U.S. for a while, Ow sad.

Othor of this post: Chimel.





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