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ENERGY IN GLOBAL AGRICULTURE AS THE HUMAN POPULATION PEAKS

Publication Date Jul 18, 2013

Abstract

Provision of adequate nutrition to a population that is forecasted to grow to >9 billion individuals by the year 2050 is a major challenge facing humanity. When considering requisite major improvement in the nutrition level of the existing population, net global agricultural production will have to at least double over the next four decades. This growth necessarily will be driven primarily by increases in agricultural productivity rather than by major increases in land under cultivation. If dietary preferences continue to develop globally towards those more characteristic of developed world settings, global food productivity may have to rise even further. A major component of previous improvements in agricultural productivity and a key requirement for further increase is the availability and cost of energy. Energy is a key input for chemical fertilizer generation and utilization, planting, harvesting, transportation, storage, water supply, and many other aspects of modern agriculture. Unfortunately, the areas of the globe with the largest nutritional shortfalls today—and the largest projected shortfalls in 2050—are also the regions with the least effective access to energy today. For much of human history, human-supplied power, fueled by food intake, was the primary source-term in agricultural energy accounts. The available food supply determined not only the supported population, but the anthropometrics of the supported population and the fraction of the population required for agricultural work. These factors would settle ...

Concepts

Improvements In Agricultural Productivity Food Supply Primary Source-term Global Food Productivity Animal Labor Body Size Agricultural Productivity Key Input Agricultural Work Cost Of Energy

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