Feeding 7 Billion People

Farmer Doug Thomas holds rice at a storage facility near Olivehurst, California.

Farmer Doug Thomas holds rice © Drew Kelly for The Nature Conservancy

 Thanks to Cara Byington and her colleagues at Cool Green Science:

When They Said They Wanted to Rethink Agriculture, They Meant It

Davis, who is a second-year fellow at Columbia University, is using his two-year applied research fellowship to develop solutions for one of the key challenges to sustainable agricultural intensification around the world – how to grow more crops with less water without expanding agriculture’s already sprawling footprint.

“A big problem,” notes Davis, “is that the current distribution of crops around the world doesn’t maximize yields or minimize water use. So we [Davis and colleagues] set out to completely rethink agriculture to see if there was a better way.”

Turns out, there is. In fact, it’s a better way so intriguing that Davis and his colleagues recently published their findings in Nature Geoscience. (Quick spoiler alert: when they said they wanted to “rethink agriculture,” they meant it.) 

What Does it Mean to ReThink Agriculture?

“Presumably, agricultural systems have been motivated by the need to feed more people and to remain profitable,” says Davis, “and this suggests that environmental impacts of food production – like water use for irrigation – only receive secondary consideration in a farmer’s decision of what crop to plant. So we wondered: Is it possible to use crops with lower water needs without affecting the amount of production?”…

Read the whole story here.

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