New University of Minnesota research shows reallocating croplands away from fuels and animal feed could boost food available for people by 70 percent without clearing more land.
The world’s croplands could feed 4 billion more people than they do now just by shifting from producing animal feed and biofuels to producing exclusively food for human consumption, according to new research from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.
Even a smaller, partial shift from crop-intensive livestock such as feedlot beef to food animals such as chicken or pork could increase agricultural efficiency and provide food for millions, the study says.
“We essentially have uncovered an astoundingly abundant supply of food for a hungry world, hidden in plain sight in the farmlands we already cultivate,” says graduate research assistant Emily Cassidy, lead author of the paper published in Environmental Research Letters.“Depending on the extent to which farmers and consumers are willing to change current practices, existing croplands could feed millions or even billions more people.”
Demand for crops is expected to double by 2050 as population grows and increasing affluence boosts meat consumption. Meat takes a particularly big toll on food security because it takes up to 30 crop calories to produce a single calorie of meat. In addition, crops are increasingly being used for biofuels rather than food production. This study sought to quantify the benefit to food security that would accrue if some or all of the lands used to produce animal feed and fuel were reallocated to directly produce food for people.
To get at that question, Cassidy and colleagues first mapped the extent and productivity of 41 major crops between 1997 and 2003, adjusting numbers for imports and exports and calculating conversion efficiencies of animal feed using U.S. Department of Agriculture data. The researchers assumed humans need an average of 2,700 calories per day, and grazing lands and animals were not included in the study. Among the team’s findings:
- Only 12 percent of crop calories used for animal feed end up as calories consumed by humans.
- Only 55 percent of crop calories worldwide directly nourish people.
- Growing food exclusively for direct human consumption could boost available food calories up to 70 percent
- U.S. agriculture alone could feed an additional 1 billion people by shifting crop calories to direct human consumption.
- When calculated on the basis of protein rather than calories, results were similar. For instance, of all plant protein produced, 49 percent ends up in human diets.
The Latest on: Cropland
- Today's tobacco field, tomorrow's solar farm on February 19, 2018 at 4:40 pm
Elaborates Michigan Tech News: However, as demonstrated by the conversion of cropland to energy for ethanol production, removing arable land from food production can cause a rise in global food prices and food shortages. Targeting land that grows crops ... […]
- Growing crops with crushed rocks could reduce CO2 emissions on February 19, 2018 at 11:42 am
Researchers detailed the benefits of adding rocks to cropland soil in a new paper published this week in the journal Nature Plants. "Human societies have long known that volcanic plains are fertile, ideal places for growing crops without adverse human ... […]
- Guest post: How ‘enhanced weathering’ could slow climate change and boost crop yields on February 19, 2018 at 11:33 am
Managed cropland, therefore, has the logistical infrastructure, such as road networks, and the machinery needed to undertake this approach at scale. These considerations could make enhanced weathering potentially straightforward to adopt. You can see this ... […]
- 'Downward pressure': Farmland rental rates flat or down on February 19, 2018 at 6:27 am
"They're not going up," he says. They didn't go up in 2017 either. Average Upper Midwest cropland rental rates fell, depending on the state, about 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to statistics from the National Agricultural ... […]
- Time to plan your monarch garden on February 18, 2018 at 8:01 am
Moreover, more monarch habitat than ever is being planted nationwide on the borders of cropland; in utility rights-of-way; between solar arrays; and in federal, state and local parks. The federal government intends to plant one and a half billion ... […]
- Marshall County zoning board approves Henry solar projects on February 17, 2018 at 1:58 am
Lead developer Jon Carson of Highland Park-based Trajectory Energy Partners said it has been a priority of his firm in Illinois to try to steer clear of the most productive cropland. The parcels owned by farmers Pete Gill and Jerry Read fall into that ... […]
- US' agricultural irrigation machinery market to reach USD 3.65 billion in 2023 examined in new market research report on February 15, 2018 at 11:26 pm
During the 1990s, farms with less than 600 crop acres operated majority of the cropland. However, things have changed dramatically over the past decade with farms of at least 1,110 acres dominating the crop production in the United States. Further ... […]
- Feeding our Crops, Protecting our Water on February 14, 2018 at 7:49 pm
Dr. Merrin Macrae, University of Waterloo presented on-farm research results from southern Ontario demonstrating the value of multiple BMP’s to stabilize cropland and prevent runoff. The greatest risk for crop nutrient loss with runoff occurs at snowmelt ... […]
- Feb. 13 webinar to focus on producing forage on cropland on February 6, 2018 at 6:09 am
Lincoln, Neb. — An upcoming webinar from Nebraska Extension will focus on the economics of producing forage on cropland. The webinar is scheduled for Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. CST. According to Beef Systems Specialist Mary Drewnoski, current corn prices and ... […]
via Google News and Bing News