Agriculture

Multiple strategies needed to improve agricultural productivity

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Science  12 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6372, pp. 173-174
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6372.173-c

Shifts in behavior and process will facilitate the integration of organic farming as a large-scale, sustainable agricultural approach.

PHOTO: DON KLUMPP/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

The world will need 50% more agricultural output by 2050 to keep up with global population growth. Muller et al. ask whether organic agriculture is compatible with producing enough food to feed the world in a sustainable manner. Analysis of various production and environmental factors showed the pluses and minuses of large-scale organic farming. Organic farming needs more land than conventional farming, although that need could be counterbalanced if food waste and demand for animal products were reduced. An anticipated deficiency in nitrogen supply could be ameliorated by recycling and by using legumes and crops optimized for nitrogen-use efficiency. Thus, organic farming could be part of a strategy that includes shifts in diet, reductions in food waste, and changes in crops to move toward an agricultural system that is both more productive and more sustainable.

Nat. Comm. 10.1038/s41467-017-01410-w (2017).

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