Report Finds U.S. Farming Increasingly Sustainable
Jan 18, 2009
Initial findings of a first-of-its-kind report released at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting suggest that American farms are making progress toward reducing their environmental footprint. The Environmental Resource Indicators report, which evaluated the nation's land use, water use, energy use, soil loss and climate impact in corn, soy, cotton and wheat production over the past two decades, is the work of Field to Market, the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.
The initial index shows significant progress in the area of soil-loss efficiency, which has improved by 30 percent to nearly 70 percent for the four crops evaluated. "Soil is the key to sustainable agriculture," said Marty Matlock, area director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability at the University of Arkansas, in a press conference announcing the report last week.
Energy use per unit of output is also down in corn, soybean and cotton production by nearly 40 percent to more than 60 percent. Irrigated water use per unit of output has also decreased 20 percent to nearly 50 percent while carbon emissions per unit of output have dropped by about a third for these three crops. A next-generation report slated for release in mid-2009 will assess water quality and biodiversity indicators.
Experts predict demand for agricultural goods will double by 2050 as the global population increases by an additional three billion people. Agriculture is already the predominant user of all habitable land and 70 percent of fresh water. By 2030, grain-producing land per capita will drop to just a third of what it was in 1950, while the World Water Council predicts in just a decade we will need 17 percent more water than is available to feed the world. Read More
There are a lot of good things to share with the public about agriculture. Unfortunately, it seems the word ‘sustainable’ has been hijacked by people who have the singular mission to eliminate modern agricultural practices. They claim that agriculture can’t feed the world and be sustainable at the same time. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Technology in our industry has always been centered around the premise that we need to raise more food with less inputs. And that is a goal that we have continued to reach and go past.