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How to Feed a Growing Global Population

by Jane Marsh Africa Americas Asia Europe Oceania Jun 22nd 20214 mins
How to Feed a Growing Global Population

The world is continuing to grow, one person at a time, as is the demand for resources. It’s difficult to imagine how the agricultural industry will provide for a projected nearly 10 billion people living throughout the world. Fortunately, new developments are entering the industry. These developments must be sustainable to ensure that future generations have the same opportunities that people have now. Sustainable agriculture is a must if there’s any chance of feeding the growing population. Here are some ways that agriculture can adapt to continue to feed a growing global population.

Agriculture already uses millions of acres of land and millions of gallons of water to provide for the people living on Earth now. Even more land will need to be made available to feed more people, but the Earth is running out of available arable land for farming

1. Reduce Food Waste

The first step in feeding a growing population is to reduce food waste. About 30-40% of the food produced for humans in the US goes to waste, which is about the same amount that goes to waste globally. Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce food waste. 

Apps like Feedie and Food for All can connect people to fresh produce that may not fit the standards to sell in stores, such as foods that are misshapen or have a small bruise. Instead of going to the waste bin, customers can get the food — it still tastes the same, but it might not be the right shape or too ripe to put on shelves, which would reduce food waste.

Other ways to reduce food waste include using discarded foods as compost or fertiliser. Additionally, foods that are on the brink of going bad can sell at a discounted price. Plus, animals can feed on food scraps. 

2. Conserve Water

Water conservation is essential to feed the growing population. Fresh water supplies are becoming more scarce in some parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, Northern Africa, and Western Asia. Agricultural practices use about 80% of the world’s fresh water sources. With continued management, agriculture can use less and produce more food. 

Already, many farmers use drip irrigation. This method uses pipes that are placed near plant roots. The pipes carry water and have small holes to drip onto the roots, which waters the roots without much evaporation. Additionally, farmers should use organic fertilisers and mulch, reducing water pollution and holding in moisture. Plus, on smaller farms, farmers can install rain barrels, which are containers that collect the rain. They can then use that water for crop irrigation.

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3. Put Robots to Work

Perhaps robots are one of the most significant agricultural developments. Robot use has increased in agriculture, and it is expected to continue to increase by 24.1% until 2024. It allows farmers to have extra time to manage their business and create newer technologies to help feed the global population. 

Without robots, farmers would be sitting on a tractor for hours in the fields. Instead, robots can do repetitive work, like pulling weeds, harvesting fresh produce and checking crop growth. 

4. Increase Crop Yields

Although it seems obvious, it’s easier said than done to increase crop yields. However, newer developments within the farming industry have been able to do so. Between urban agriculture, vertical farming and sustainable methods, an increase in crop yields are possible.

Urban agriculture and vertical farming — which are methods of agriculture that use vertical buildings in highly populated areas to grow crops — go hand-in-hand. These increase crop yields without increasing acreage used to farm. They are farms that grow vegetables in vertical buildings, which are often grown by hydroponics. Sustainable agriculture methods, such as composting, regenerative farming and maintaining soil health, can be used on large-scale farms and also help increase crop yields.

5. Maintain Good Soils

Another agriculture development to feed a growing population is to maintain good soil health. Degraded soils affect cropland, and without soil, much of the produce needed to feed humans cannot be grown. That’s why the preservation of soils is necessary for healthy crops. Here are a few ways to do so: 

There are multiple ways to manage soil that farmers can implement into their routines to keep the soil healthy to support a more considerable amount of crops.

6. Work With the Climate

Finally, those who work in agriculture should work with the climate to feed a growing population. Temperature and precipitation have a significant role in growing crops. With climate change, though, it’s been more challenging to meet food demands. Hotter, drier weather and drought cause crops to fail, and powerful storms and heavy rains wash out crops and soils.

However, farmers can plant climate-resilient crops and native crops. These are resistant to significant changes in weather, so they’ll still produce. Additionally, they can get in tune with the weather by reviewing and researching past years’ weather, and keep up with climate change patterns. 

Feeding the World One Step at a Time

Agriculture needs to continue to change to feed and otherwise meet the demands of a growing global population. With these developments, the agricultural industry will be sustainable so each generation can have access to fresh produce and clean water. 


About the Author

Jane Marsh

Jane works as the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co. She specialises in covering topics in sustainability, renewable energy and environmental policy.

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