Showing results for: Primary production: Agriculture
Agricultural production sits at the heart of major societal concerns, spanning food security, nutrition and health; livelihoods and development; the environment;and animal ethics. In early history, the farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that allowed for the development of sedentary civilisation. Later, the Green Revolution of the twentieth century allowed for large groups of people, especially in developed countries, to “move off the land” and improved food supplies across much of the world. Yet while innovations in modern agronomy, plant and animal breeding, pesticides and fertilizer use have greatly increased food output, much environmental harm arising from these practices has occurred while concerns are also growing around excess calories and poor nutrition, leading to obesity and associated non communicable diseases as well as micronutrient deficiencies. Many of the 1.3 billion people worldwide who rely directly or indirectly on agriculture for their living face problems arising from imbalanced power structures, including poor working conditions, uncertain land use and tenure, and lack of access to inputs, infrastructure, capital and knowledge; these imbalances play out along the whole of the food value chain, between the genders, within country populations and across countries and regions. As to the environment, agriculture is responsible for some 20% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions of which about half arise directly from crop and livestock production and the other half from agriculturally induced land use change. It is also the main cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss, a major user and polluter of scarce water resources and responsible for the disruption of global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.
This report from the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations reviews trends in food production and consumption, with a focus on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It finds that meat production is likely to contract in 2020 because of COVID-19, animal diseases and droughts, while seafood production has been affected by restaurant closures and restrictions on the operations of fishing fleets.
This paper by FCRN member Eric Toensmeier argues that perennial vegetables (those grown on plants that live for more than two years) are underappreciated as a source of nutrients, as a means of sequestering carbon and as beneficial to biodiversity.
This article by FoodPrint discusses the tension between the purported environmental benefits of kelp farming and consumers’ lack of familiarity with kelp as a food, and describes “regenerative” kelp farming systems that also produce oysters, clams and mussels. It sets out several ways in which kelp can be used, including in foods such as pesto or lasagne, as well as other uses such as bioplastics, fertiliser, biofuel and animal feed.
This book uses case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America to argue that, in the right circumstances, home gardens can help to supply people with food and income. It explores how home gardening relates to gender, food security, resilience and poverty alleviation.
This BBC story looks at a new initiative to heat greenhouses in East Anglia using waste heat from nearby water treatment plants. According to the story, the technology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heating greenhouses as well as reduce reliance on imported produce.
US think tank The Breakthrough Institute has published a policy brief on how new federal funding for agricultural research and development in the United States could protect and generate tens of thousands of jobs while also helping roughly halve US agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.
This book examines the social and cultural aspects of the concept of a “good farmer”. It discusses the origins of the concept, symbolism, morality, gender issues and future challenges.
This three-volume set offers an interdisciplinary review of agriculture and the environment, covering the history of agriculture, soils, irrigation, nutrient management, crop production, livestock and agricultural innovation.
The journal Agriculture and Human Values has put together a topical collection of 70 articles relating to agriculture, food and the COVID-19 pandemic.
FCRN member Susannah Fleiss is the lead author of this paper, which finds that setting aside areas of forest (conservation set-asides) within oil palm plantations plays a vital role in storing carbon and boosting rainforest biodiversity within plantations.
NGO Greenpeace Brazil reports that some meat companies that have exported beef from Brazil to the UK, among other countries, have received cattle that have, for part of their life, been grazed on illegally deforested areas within the protected Ricardo Franco State Park. Greenpeace describes the process as “cattle laundering” because the cattle are sent to other farms (not linked to illegal deforestation) later in their life, to hide the links to deforestation.
This paper models how integrating crop production - specifically maize, wheat and rice - into global land restoration efforts could impact food security, carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. The paper’s scenarios look at how to achieve the Bonn Challenge, which is a global agreement to restore 350 million hectares of deforested or degraded land by 2030.
This paper by FCRN member Roger Leakey proposes a three-stage process to improve smallholder incomes, yields, nutrition and environmental performance in tropical agriculture, focusing on Africa. Leakey argues that food policies developed in industrialised nations do not always recognise that farming systems are very different across the world.
This paper finds that global cropland use could be almost halved while maintaining current output levels by optimising fertiliser inputs and re-allocating the production location of 16 major crops. Co-benefits would include reduced emissions from fertilisers and rice paddies, lower irrigation water requirements, and land being freed up for sequestering carbon through restoring natural vegetation.