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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #371292

Research Project: Enhancing Sustainability of Mid-Atlantic Agricultural Systems Using Agroecological Principles and Practices

Location: Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory

Title: How to feed the world

item Roberts, Daniel
item Vandenberg, Bruce
item Mirsky, Steven
item Buser, Michael
item REBERG-HORTON, CHRIS - North Carolina State University
item SHORT, JR., NICHOLAS - Esri

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2020
Publication Date: 11/1/2020
Citation: Roberts, D.P., Vandenberg, B., Mirsky, S., Buser, M., Reberg-Horton, C., Short, N., Shrestha, S. 2020. How to feed the world. In: Wright, D.J., Harder, C., editors. Applying Mapping and Spatial Analytics. GIS for Science. Redlands, CA:Esri Press. p. 110-123.

Interpretive Summary: Agricultural solutions are needed to the problem of feeding 9 to 10 billion people by 2050. More food of higher nutritional content is needed from crop production systems that have diminished impact on the environment. In this book chapter we describe the use of geospatial data and geographic information systems (GIS) in the development of next-generation cropping systems that have diminished impact on the environment and advanced plant cultivars that have enhanced nutritional content and increased resistance to biotic and abiotic stress. We also discuss the role of GIS in linking collaborative networks of scientists, government agencies, and the agricultural community to speed the development and adoption of these next-generation cropping systems and advanced plant cultivars. This information will be useful to scientists and policymakers working in the agricultural sector.

Technical Abstract: The grand challenge confronting agriculture is the development of technologies for sustainable intensification of crop production systems to feed the estimated future human population of 9 to 10 billion. It is thought that crop production must be increased by 60 to 100% by the year 2050 to meet these nutritional needs. Crop production systems that yield more food of higher nutritional content are needed that at the same time have a diminished impact on the environment. Prior agricultural intensification was through substantial use of fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation all at significant environmental cost. Next-generation cropping systems that couple biologically based technologies (plant-beneficial microbes, cover crops) and precision agriculture need to be developed to decrease fertilizer, pesticide, and water inputs. Crop cultivars with enhanced nutritional content and enhanced tolerance to abiotic (drought, salinity, heat, etc.) and/or biotic (disease) stresses need to be developed using advanced breeding and biotechnology approaches. Geospatial solutions will be needed for mass transfer of genomic and other genetic data for development of these advanced crop cultivars, and for mass transfer of agronomic data for the development of these next-generation production systems. Geospatial solutions based on imagery, IoT, AI, mobile data collection, etc. will be critical for the operation of precision agriculture systems where intelligent application of resource inputs are applied at precise geo-specific field locations based on crop need. Finally, solutions will be needed to allow immediate feedback from digital farm communities regarding the performance of these new cropping systems; speeding their development. Here we describe an overview of a “system of systems” approach to building a scientific network that integrates the scientific and farming communities, based on USDA-ARS' Esri Geoinformatics cloud platform.