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5 agricultural advancements needed to feed a growing planet

Researchers have identified five breakthrough scientific advancements U.S. producers must implement to compete with China in the global food marketplace.

Amanda Radke

March 31, 2019

3 Min Read

Even as farmers markets and local food movements gain popularity amongst consumers, the reality is that in order to feed a hungry planet that is expected to exceed 9.7 billion people by 2050, we will need to rely on the efficiencies of modern, conventional agricultural.

And while producers are already great at what they do — using far fewer resources than ever before to produce an abundance of safe and affordable food — there is always room for improvement.

As food producers, we’ll need to rely on agricultural scientists and researchers to help us implement advancements in production practices to further stretch how much nutritious food we can grow while creating the smallest planetary footprint.

According to the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation, the U.S. needs to increase its investment in agricultural research or risk falling further behind China.

Per a Texas AgriLife article, SoAR researchers have released a new report which identifies how to supercharge agricultural science in the U.S. in order for producers to best compete in the global marketplace.

An excerpt from the article reads, “The new report, ‘Retaking the Field: Science Breakthroughs for Thriving Farms and a Healthier Nation,’ highlights research projects in the five science breakthrough areas identified as the most important fields to advance in agriculture by the year 2030.”

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These areas, which were determined by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, are:

  1. Genomics

  2. Microbiomes

  3. Sensors

  4. Data and informatics

  5. Trans-disciplinary research

“Investments in these five science breakthroughs will allow us to achieve a number of broader goals for food and agriculture in the U.S. in the next decade,” said Thomas Grumbly, SoAR president. “But these advancements aren’t possible without federal funding for the research needed to tackle agriculture’s greatest problems. Farmers are getting hammered right now and they need innovation to at least soften the blows.”

So what do these five areas look like in practice? Researchers have determined that by 2030, U.S. producers will need to be innovative in implementing the latest agricultural advancements in order to:

  • Reduce water use in agriculture by 20%.

  • Reduce fertilizer use by 15%.

  • Significantly reduce the need for fungicides and pesticides in plant production.

  • Radically reduce the incidence of infectious disease epidemics for livestock.

  • Reduce the incidence of foodborne illnesses by 50%.

  • Increase the availability of new plant varieties and animal products to deliver food with enhanced nutrient content.

To read the entire report, click here.

What does this look like for U.S. beef producers? We already have a great sustainability story to tell; however, in the years to come, consumers will demand more of our production practices. The ones to adapt will likely thrive, while others who fail to innovate may find themselves floundering.

Ask yourself, how can I be a better land manager to produce more beef per acre on my ranch? Once you have your answers, go out and put your theories to work. Your land, livestock and customers will thank you.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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