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Challenges of modern agriculture

Given the Global context, the specific challenges of modern agriculture could be said to

How can we continue to meet the ever growing demand for safe and nutritious food and renewable materials in the years ahead?

How can we do this in a way that conserves natural resources and biodiversity for future generations?

The challenges are enormous.

At no time has the need for sustainable agriculture and sustainable agricultural products been greater. By 2030, the world’s population is expected to rise to more than eight billion people. That is two billion more than on the planet today. This poses an enormous challenge for agriculture because there is only a finite area available for farmland - it is estimated that the amount of fertile farmland per person in 2050 will be less than a third of that in 1950.  Climate change brings further pressures – drought, flooding and erosion – all of which threaten fertile farmland.

Productivity gains are essential if the world is to satisfy the demand for food and agricultural produce. In addition to adverse weather conditions, productivity limiting factors include poor soil health, lack of water, plant disease and insect attack.

This site addresses these issues by focusing on ways to:

Soil erosion makes millions of hectares of farmland infertile every year. This means farmers must find new land, often at the expense of natural habitats. Protecting and maintaining soil health is key. Conservation Agriculture employing minimum tillage and the use of non-selective herbicides conserves the soil structure by leaving the roots intact helping to prevent soil erosion. It also benefits the farmers by reducing constant hand-weeding, while cutting the costs and carbon emissions caused by mechanized tilling.

Nutrients washed away with the soil can also pollute watercourses and damage ecosystems. Inappropriate use of agrochemicals pollutes waterways, disrupts ecosystems and is a risk to human health. Farmers play a significant role in managing ecosystems and protecting biodiversity.

Agriculture relies heavily on the availability of water, an increasingly scarce resource. Productivity is determined by the availability of rain and fresh water to irrigate crops. Current estimates suggest that two thirds of the world population could be subject to water stress and 1.8 billion people could be living in regions with absolute water scarcity by 2025. Sustainability is key to its management, water protection is vital.

To explore these issues further, please use the links in this section

And see the section 'Stewardship in Practice' for examples of best practice

The objective of this Stewardship Community Website is to promote dialogue among individuals, growers, industry professionals, government and non governmental organizations, researchers, media and all those interested in proper and effective crop production.

We welcome inputs and dialogue and encourage you to use the forum and email to discuss and feedback your ideas and comments.