Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation

7/18/2014 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Water usage is key in increasing productivity, experts say

Targeted efforts to make food systems more efficient in key parts of the world could meet the basic calorie needs of 3 billion extra people and reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture without using additional land and water, researchers said on Thursday.

When it comes to water, rice and wheat are the crops that create the most demand for irrigation worldwide.

When it comes to water, rice and wheat are the crops that create the most demand for irrigation worldwide.

Highlights

By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/18/2014 (8 months ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Agriculture, worldwide, rice, wheat, water usage


LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In a study published in the journal Science, researchers from the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment looked at 17 key crops that produce 86 percent of the world's crop calories and account for most irrigation and fertilizer consumption, including rice, wheat and corn.

The biggest opportunities for boosting food production lie in Africa, they suggested, while initiatives to make agriculture more sustainable should focus on six countries - China, India, the United States, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan - as well as Europe.

Learn how, you too, can feed the hungry -- by going here --

Their main recommendations are to produce more food on existing farmland by increasing yields, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, use less nutrients and water to grow crops, feed fewer crops to animals as fodder, and cut food waste.

"Sustainably feeding people today and in the future is one of humanity's grand challenges. Agriculture is the main source of water use, greenhouse gas emissions and habitat loss, yet we need to grow more food," said the study's lead author Paul West, co-director of the Institute on the Environment's Global Landscapes Initiative.

"By focusing on areas, crops and practices with the most to be gained, companies, governments, NGOs and others can ensure that their efforts are being targeted in a way that best accomplishes the common and critically important goal of feeding the world while protecting the environment," he added in a statement.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says food production needs to rise by 60 percent to feed a projected global population of more than 9.5 billion people by mid-century, up from around 7 billion now.

But global production of food is responsible for more than 70 percent of freshwater consumption and 80 percent of deforestation, while over a fifth of all cultivated land and 30 percent of forests are being degraded by unsustainable agriculture, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

BOOSTING YIELDS, SAVING WATER

The University of Minnesota study found that closing even 50 percent of the agricultural "yield gap" - the difference between potential and actual crop yield - in regions with the widest gaps could provide enough calories to feed 850 million people. Nearly half the potential gains are in Africa, and most of the rest in Asia and eastern Europe, it said.

In terms of the nutrients used to help crops grow, 60 percent of nitrogen and nearly half of phosphorus applications exceed what crops need, the study said. China, India and the United States - and the three crops rice, wheat and corn - are the biggest sources of excess nutrient use worldwide, and so could be targeted for the largest improvements.

When it comes to water, rice and wheat are the crops that create the most demand for irrigation worldwide, while India, Pakistan, China and the United States account for the bulk of irrigation water use in water-limited areas, the study said. Using water more efficiently could reduce demand for it by eight to 15 percent without compromising food production, it added.

The world could also stop feeding so many crops to animals, as the calories contained in fodder are sufficient to meet the needs of 4 billion people, the researchers found. While cultural preferences for meat eating in Western nations and China make changing this difficult, crops could be shifted from animal feed to human food as a "safety net" when weather or pests create shortages, they proposed.

Wasting less food, particularly animal products, could also make a difference. Reducing food waste in the United States, China and India alone could yield food for more than 400 million people, the report said.

A separate study on food security in India and Uganda, released this week by UNEP and partners, found that promoting crop diversification and new water-and energy-efficient technologies could save millions of hectare-meters (1 ham = 10,000 cubic meters) of water annually, as well as millions of dollars in energy costs.

According to the research, shifting the dominant cropping pattern in the Indian state of Punjab from rice to a mix of maize, cotton, sugarcane, pulses, fodder, fruits, vegetables and agro-forestry could reduce agricultural water use by 1.58 million hectare-metres a year, for example.

In Uganda, meanwhile, the agricultural sector produces only a quarter to half of potential crop and livestock yields due to poor production methods, despite favorable climatic conditions, said the study, which aims to help policy makers and researchers address the problem of low yields.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.



Comments


More Green

Ancient salamander, thought to have roamed Earth 170 million years ago found by Chinese ranger Watch

Image of After keeping it in a temporary tank, Xiao released the creature back into the river, watched by a crowd of tourists.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A park ranger in south China named only as "Mr. Xiao" has caught an enormous Chinese salamander. It is acknowledged as the world's largest living amphibian and is known as the "Living Fossil," as it has remained unchanged for 170 million years. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Scientists discover annoying foam packing peanuts can now be used for something other than trash Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Foam peanuts that constantly clutter your room and fill up the trash, after a package arrives, could actually be useful. This new discovery, presented at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), was researched by a team from ... continue reading


Giant crocodile ruled the Earth long before dinosaurs Watch

Image of Carnufex, meaning

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A nine-foot-tall monster with blade-like teeth at one time strolled through the warm and wet environs of what is now known as North Carolina some 230 million years ago. The Carnufex carolinensis, as known by its scientific name, was active long before dinosaurs ... continue reading


Rapidly thinning Antarctic glacier 'appears unstoppable' Watch

Image of The Totten Glacier is larger and thinning faster than all the others in East Antarctica are.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Everyone is now aware about the rapidly melting polar icecaps. Scientists have raised concerns about a large, rapidly thinning glacier in Antarctica. Researchers have discovered two openings that could channel warm seawater to the base of the huge Totten ... continue reading


EXTREMELY SEVERE DROUGHT: California is not only up a creek without a paddle - it's loosing the creek as well Watch

Image of California has been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While the East Coast was battered with rain, sleet and record snowfall, California faced the driest January on record, ever since records began to be taken in 1865. With snow packs in the mountains at all time lows, the state's drought has many people wonder if ... continue reading


SEA MONSTER: Massive 14-foot stingray declared world's largest caught fish Watch

Image of After getting the ray alongside, it was then taken into a specially prepared pen. It took seven people to lift the ray out of the water so it could be properly measured.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A massive, 14-feet stingray recently caught by two anglers has since broken the world's record for the largest freshwater fish caught by rod and line. The gigantic, flat fish bearing a poisonous barb measured over eight feet in width, 14 feet in length and ... continue reading


AMAZING DIVERSITY: 1,451 new marine species identified in our oceans in a single year Watch

Image of Biologists also identified two new species of dolphin last year. One was found near Papua New Guinea and the other in a Brazilian river. Sadly, both are already threatened by anglers.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There is nothing new under the sun... or is it? The finite capabilities of man would deduce that after centuries of science and exploration, humankind would know everything there is to know about the various life forms on this planet. Scientists have proven ... continue reading


Rare, 475-pound leatherback sea turtle washes up on South Carolina beach Watch

Image of Treatments appear to be helping. Aquarium officials said the turtle was more energetic earlier this week than when it was first admitted.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A rare, 475-pound leatherback sea turtle washed up on a South Carolina beach this past weekend. Marine biologists at the South Carolina Aquarium are currently treating the turtle who they named "Yawkey." Discovered on the Yawkey-South Island Preserve, a ... continue reading


BUSTED! A-list Climate Change deniers go nuts in emails over documentary that exposes ties to fossil fuel industry Watch

Image of Despite the obvious signs, a number of scientists continue to insist that global warming isn't happening.

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

An A list of "climate change deniers" has been released, exposing the connections that climate change denial scientists have to the fossil fuel industry and other private firms that are literally paying them for their denial. The leaked emails stem from a documentary ... continue reading


Extinct bird remarkably reappears after 70 years gone Watch

Image of The team observed several babblers at different locations in the area for two days, according to an official release.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A small brown bird, the Jerdon's babbler was last seen in Myanmar in 1941. Presumed extinct, the babbler has made an unexpected comeback. Naturalists are boy busy resurrecting the bird from the list of animals thought to have vanished from the Earth. LOS ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 20:10-13
10 I heard so many disparaging me, 'Terror on every ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 18:2-3, 3-4, 5-6, 7
2 Yahweh is my rock and my fortress, my deliverer is ... Read More

Gospel, John 10:31-42
31 The Jews fetched stones to stone him,32 ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 27th, 2015 Image

St. Rupert
March 27: Bishop and missionary, also listed as Robert of Hrodbert. A ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter