Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Production efficiency/intensity

Image: Bicanski, Organic apple fruits on tree, Pixnio, CC0 Public domain
24 July 2018

This review paper reports that organic agriculture has lower yields than conventional agriculture, by 19-25% on average across all crops, according to three meta-analyses. Lower yields may be due to the lack of use of synthetic fertilisers - organic systems are often limited by low levels of nitrogen or phosphorus - and higher susceptibility to pest outbreaks. Widespread uptake of organic farming (to produce the same amounts of output as today) would probably require some conversion of natural habitats to farmland, because of this lower land-use efficiency compared to conventional agriculture - an important consideration, as the area of certified organic production has increased from 15 million ha in 2000 to 51 million ha in 2015 (although this is only 1% of agricultural land).

Image: Brian Robert Marshall, Crop spraying near St Mary Bourne, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
10 July 2018

FCRN member Waleed Fouad Abobatta of the Agriculture Research Centre, Egypt, has published a paper on the applications of nanotechnology in agriculture. FCRN readers may be particularly interested in the use of nanotechnology to reduce use of fertilisers and pesticides through greater application efficiency.

Image: sbj04769, Spray plane agriculture, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
26 June 2018

Rob Bailey and Bernice Lee of UK think tank Chatham House have written a piece exploring food system trends, including rising food demand, plateauing yields in key crop production regions, global convergence on a diet dependent on calorie-dense but nutrient-poor crops and a lack of genetic diversity in staple crops. The authors conclude that current food system trends are unsustainable, saying, “The continued intensification and expansion of agriculture is a short-term coping strategy that will eventually lead to food-system collapse.” They call for interventions at key leverage points in the food system.

Image: vbranyik, Corn cornfield fall, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
11 June 2018

FCRN member Ben Phalan of the Universidade Federal da Bahia has written a paper discussing the strengths and limitations of the land sparing-sharing framework, which aims to allocate land use and production intensity so as to maximise the value of land for wildlife while still producing enough food for people. He notes that most studies show that wildlife would be favoured by producing food intensely on as little land as possible, and addresses some common criticisms of the model.

10 April 2018

A information site about clean meat and cellular agriculture has been launched by the Cellular Agriculture Society. It discusses applications of cellular agriculture including lab-grown meat, leather and silk and introduces terminology such as “neomnivore”, i.e. a person who only eats cellular agriculture products.

Image: kaibara87, Cell Culture in a tiny Petri dish, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
10 April 2018

Cultured meat, also known as in vitro, clean, lab-grown or synthetic meat, is meat grown as muscle tissue in the laboratory. This paper reviews the state of cultured meat technology, analyses social concerns and examines some of the issues that start-ups in the industry face.

26 March 2018

Developed by SDG Academy, this free course explores the challenges to ensuring a healthy and sustainable diet for our growing world population, as well as the central role of agriculture in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Image: Steve Baker, No matter where you see litter it's still ugly, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
19 March 2018

You can view the full video recording of the panel talk “Reinventing the plastic bottle” which was hosted by the Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy at Chatham House. Speakers discussed problems created by single-use plastic bottles and some possible solutions.

Image: USDA NRCS Montana, Irrigation31.tif, Flickr, Public domain
19 March 2018

A wireless soil probe that measures soil conditions every 15 minutes could help farmers to apply fertilisers more efficiently and prevent overwatering. Each probe has 23 sensors and sends data to a software interface that summarises the information for farmers. Factors measured include levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, pH, moisture, temperature and aeration.

Image: United Soybean Board, Corn Harvest, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
12 March 2018

This article explains the technological changes behind the three-fold increase in global crop production between 1961 and 2014, i.e. since the Green Revolution. It examines the 58 countries that are responsible for 95% of food production and assesses the impacts of changes in land use, inputs and efficiency.

Image: Fort Greene Focus, Rooftop farm, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
26 February 2018

Urban agriculture could provide several percent of global food production, according to the first global estimate of its potential.

26 February 2018

This book, edited by Charis Michel Galanakis, describes the latest research on how food production and processing can become more sustainable.

Image: Bytemarks, Aquaculture, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
20 February 2018

Fish are generally seen as more efficient in converting feed into food than land-based species, but, according to a new paper, this conclusion does not hold if the retention of protein and calories is accounted for using a different measure.

Image: Valcenteu, VertiCrop System, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
13 February 2018

Indoor and vertical farming might not replace traditional farms, but they bring their own unique benefits.​

13 February 2018

No country meets basic needs for its citizens at a globally sustainable level of resource use, according to a study by researchers from the University of Leeds.

Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 20180124-OSEC-PJK-1015_TONED_1, Flickr, Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0
6 February 2018

The Protein Challenge 2040's new report, 'The feed behind our food', sets out why retailers and food service businesses should act on sustainability in animal feed.

Image: Phillip Capper, Terminal 5, Heathrow, 23 April 2011, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
6 February 2018

In this paper, the researchers examine the British civil aviation and ruminant farming sectors to understand the barriers to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through technological innovation.

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