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
- Saskatchewan's Topsoil Ratings Versus Past Years on November 8, 2018 at 2:46 pm
At the same time, the province's cropland is rated far better than indicated this time last year (blue bars on the attached graphic relative to the brown bars). While not shown, the area rated short t... […]
- Minnesota couple used no-till drill to plant native prairie on November 5, 2018 at 3:35 am
AUSTIN, Minn. — Before Ken and Gloria Trom finally decided to convert the last of their Udolpho Township cropland into native prairie, they got a bit of help from Mower County — a drill bit, that is. ... […]
- Water bond would spread money across the state — but pour it on the Central Valley on October 23, 2018 at 4:30 am
Excessive groundwater pumping by San Joaquin Valley farmers has caused a stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal to sink so much that it has interfered with irrigation deliveries to more than 300,000 acres o... […]
- Viability of compost treatments for cropland to be examined in Longmont area on September 27, 2018 at 9:25 pm
Whether processed organic compost can be used as an alternative to synthetic fertilizers to boost the health of farmland soils is being explored in a field just south of Longmont. Through a study Boul... […]
- Wisconsin farmland value steady as cropland prices drop on August 8, 2018 at 10:14 am
MADISON, Wis. — U.S. Department of Agriculture data figures show that the value of farm real estate is up slightly in Wisconsin this year, but that the value of cropland is down. Farm real estate incl... […]
- Southeast Asian deforestation more extensive than thought, study finds on July 18, 2018 at 1:44 pm
The researchers highlight in particular the extensive but previously unrecorded conversion of higher-elevation forest to cropland. By combining multiple streams of high- and medium-resolution satellit... […]
- Mapping cropland: UW-Madison plays critical role in worldwide map on November 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm
A global collaboration has just released a satellite-based map of world croplands that “found” 625 million to 875 million acres that were not known to national agricultural authorities. Farmland, the ... […]
via Google News and Bing News