Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation

7/18/2014 (1 year 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 (1 year 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 July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Green

Prawn Nebula births astonishing new star clusters Watch

Image of The Prawn Nebula -dense concentration of ionized gas and dust- 'births' three clusters of newborn stars captured with the MPG/ESO 2.2 metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile as part of ESO's Cosmic Gems program.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

European Southern Observatory (ESO) scientists captured three clusters of newborn stars in the Prawn Nebula with the MPG/ESO telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile as part of ESO's Cosmic Gems program. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (Catholic Online) - The scientists ... continue reading


Where are all the trees? Only a SHOCKING 3 trillion trees left in entire world Watch

Image of Lumberjack cuts tree.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An alarming report has been released by researchers following a comprehensive assessment of global tree populations. The number of trees falling has reached an unprecedented rate and, unfortunately, the rate can still increase based on human population growth, ... continue reading


Incredible NASA video offers amazing sights of Pluto Watch

Image of Large areas of Pluto are completely or largely crater-free. This suggests that the dwarf planet remained geologically active until the recent past - and may even still be active today.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The distant, icy planet of Pluto was officially kicked out of our solar system in 2006. Our current solar system now only features eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. A recent flyby by NASA has revealed a wealth of ... continue reading


Are the blood moons foretelling the impending apocalypse? Watch

Image of The Blood Moon is the result of Earth's shadow.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Blood Moon will grace the skies this year on September 27-28, leading end-of-time believers speculating that the end of the world is drawing near. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - There will be blood -in the sky that is. A "blood moon" is a lunar ... continue reading


Five-foot-long 'bizarre' sea scorpion fossil discovered Watch

Image of Pentecopterus decorahensis, or

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

More than 150 fossil fragments of the well-preserved ancestors of sea scorpions were unearthed in Iowa, according to The Daily Mail. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Named "Pentecopterus decorahensis," the creatures were the largest and oldest species of sea ... continue reading


President Obama shares apocalyptic vision of world destroyed by climate change Watch

Image of President Barack Obama viewing a rapidly melting glacier while on his Alaskan trip.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama shared his vision of the world if global leaders further refuse the facts of climate change. Warning that if we don't act today, "we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


World must address climate change or 'condemn our children to a world they will no longer have the capacity to repair,' Obama says Watch

Image of Obama recently gave final approval to Shell Oil's drilling in the Alaskan Arctic for the first time in 20 years. Environmentalists have called down Obama for hypocrisy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

United States President Barack Obama called upon world to act quickly on climate change or "condemn our children to a world they will no longer have the capacity to repair." The president used unusually strong language at the "GLACIER" conference in Anchorage, ... continue reading


Nearly all seabird species expected to have guts full of plastic by 2050 Watch

Image of A bird with plastic netting wrapped around its neck.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A recently published study stated by 2050, nearly every seabird species is predicted to have plastic debris ingested into their systems. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Senior research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research ... continue reading


NASA captures space 'butterfly' with Hubble Space Telescope Watch

Image of  Hubble Scope's new image of Minkowski's Butterfly, a Butterfly Nebula.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A butterfly nebula recently beamed back via NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. NASA reports the phenomenon is the result of good luck, dust, a dying star and a smaller star. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) -NASA explained that the occurrence had to do with ... continue reading


OMINOUS DEVELOPMENT: Massive chunk breaks off world's fastest melting glacier Watch

Image of It comes as ominous news to coastal cities and nations around the world vulnerable to sudden sea level rise . the world's fastest melting glacier had a massive chunk break off in over two days, setting an unwelcome record.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It comes as ominous news to coastal cities and nations around the world vulnerable to sudden sea level rise as the world's fastest melting glacier had a massive chunk break off in over two days, setting an unwelcome record. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... 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, Colossians 1:21-23
21 You were once estranged and of hostile intent ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 54:3-4, 6, 8
3 Arrogant men are attacking me, bullies hounding me ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 6:1-5
1 It happened that one Sabbath he was walking through ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 5th, 2015 Image

Bl.Teresa of Calcutta
September 5: The remarkable woman who would be known as Mother Theresa began ... 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