Innovative technologies and policies can make agriculture environmentally sustainable | 5/22/2018 | Staff
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Agriculture faces increasing demands for food, feed, fiber, and fuel from a growing population under the looming threat of climate change. Advances in seed technologies, equipment, and crop management offer considerable promise for increasing agricultural productivity and meeting these demands. But a key challenge for agriculture is to meet growing demands while protecting our natural resources.

That challenge is the motivation behind a new article published in Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy. In the article, environmental and agricultural economists examine ways to integrate the agricultural, transportation, and electricity sectors and identify research priorities that will help move agriculture forward sustainably.

Land - Resource - Supply - Planet - Use

"Ultimately, land is the resource in fixed supply on the planet; therefore, we have to figure out how to best use the land to meet diverse needs," says Madhu Khanna, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois and lead author of the study.

"We need to explore opportunities for 'sustainable intensification' which allow us to increase productivity while reducing environmental harm. More research is needed, including looking at ways in which the recent emergence of big data-enabled precision agriculture can intensify agricultural production sustainably."

Land - Production - World - War - II

Land for agricultural production has increased since World War II and is accompanied by more input use and intensification of land use by using fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, tillage, and irrigation, among other technology advances. This surge in productivity has ushered in many environmental problems for water quality, climate, and biodiversity.

In the article, the researchers identify the need to build capacity for systems-based approaches that consider both the environment and agriculture. One strategy is to closely connect the values of the environment to consumers...
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