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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Farming in a World of Declining Renewable Resources

Author
item Vance, Carroll

Submitted to: American Association for the Advancement of Science Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 15, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: The Earth's population is projected to reach 8 to 10 billion by 2040. Obviously, maintaining the populations' current level of protein and caloric intake over the next 40 years will require unprecedented increases in crop production. Increased crop production will require heightened demand for nutrients (fertilizers) and improved nutrient use efficiency. Production of high-quality, protein-rich food is extremely dependent upon nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). However, N and P pose a conundrum for agriculture. Other than water use and photosynthesis, N and P acquisition and use are the most critical components for plant growth and development. These two elements are the most costly and energy intensive inputs into agricultural production. Overarching their use in intensive farming is the fact that high application of N and P have negative environmental consequences including: surface and ground water contamination, eutrophication of streams and lakes, and enhancing environmental greenhous effects. Moreover, N and P are nonrenewable resources necessitating that their efficiency of use by crops be improved. Judicious management of N and P inputs into cropping systems is essential to maintaining maximum soil fertility and to minimizing the environmental consequences of intensive farming practices. In extensive agriculture of the developing world, lack of N and P are primary impediments to food sufficiency. The paramount roles that N and P play in crop yield, agroecology, and sustainable agriculture necessitate that we focus research and extension on the underlying principles that regulate their acquisition and use. In addition, it is imperative that management approaches be implemented to reduce N and P loss to the environment.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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