Every day, over 800 million people go to bed hungry and with a rise in global population expected, that figure is set to increase. Farming is under pressure to change – but change in a way that doesn’t increase climate change…
In 1960, one hectare of land fed on average two people. By 2050, when the global population is set to exceed 9 billion, that same amount of land will have to feed more than six people.Embed from Getty Images
Over the last 50 or so years, chemical-based fertilisers have been used to help increase crop sizes, with herbicides and pesticides used to get rid of pests and weeds.
Without herbicides and pesticides, it’s estimated that up to 40% of the world’s food wouldn’t exist. Chemists are helping to develop more effective products that don’t harm the environment. Interestingly, inspiration for new products comes from naturally occurring compounds, and by studying the way plants and insects interact naturally.
And it’s not just the weeds and pests that are important to tackle, we need to look under our feet too… to the soil! After all, soil’s not just important to grow crops, it stores greenhouse gases and water.Embed from Getty Images
As temperatures rise, we can expect more flooding and soil’s an important flood defence. Chemists are helping us better understand soil so we can protect the soil and maintain its quality, whatever the weather. And talking of weather…
Biochemists are helping develop an amazing new sustainable approach to farming which involves bringing the outside – well, INside!
Vertical farms take the idea of a greenhouse LITERALLY to the next level, with rows and rows of crops under cover of glass or plastic in stacked layers. A single vertical farm can grow the same amount of crops as you’d get from 10 acres of land. That’s like five Olympic size swimming pools in just half an acre.
The land could be left alone to preserve biodiversity. It’s an amazing new way to think about farming and it’s set to increase. There’s over 2 million square metres of indoor farms now, and that’s expected to rise over 10 times in the next five years. And another new technology is helping farmers maximise crops cheaply and efficiently…
Drones can inspect every last inch of farmland with infrared scanners to detect pests, weeds and even plants that need fertiliser.Embed from Getty Images
Here’s the first few pages from a cool cartoon from Bayer that shows how the combination of crops’ natural superpowers, proven farming techniques, and amazing technology can help fight climate change.