DailyDirt: Farming In The Future

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

So far, we've mostly avoided a Malthusian catastrophe, but the human population is likely to grow to about 9 billion by 2050 (or somewhere between 7.5 and 10.5 billion, depending on your estimates). By that time, huge cities could house enormous populations, but the resources to feed all those people might need to be shipped in from vast farmlands. Who knows, maybe there will be some suburban middle ground where billions of people live near locally-produced agriculture. Vertical farming technologies could make it possible to grow food without acres and acres of land. Here are just a few links on some futuristic farming techniques. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2013 @ 5:23pm

    what is organic farming?

    I dont think I eat inorganic foods too often...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    artp (profile), 26 Apr 2013 @ 11:10pm

    Bad assumption

    In the organic article, both the author and TechDirt are making a bad assumption - that the volume of crops grown is equivalent between organic crops and modern factory farming. Let me throw in a third method - old-fashioned sustainable agriculture. Organic ag is not always sustainable, especially if it is being done by a corporation. Sustainable ag involves crop rotation, raising grains and livestock (inputs and outputs form a cycle), and processing the crops as much as possible before shipping them.

    If you look at the USDA Agricultural Almanac over the years, I am told that you will notice a decrease in nutrient levels from year to year. I grew up on an Iowa farm. As a kid, I helped my Dad feed open-pollinated Reid's Yellow Dent field corn to cattle that we raised. Later on, Dad switched to hybrid corn, bought more corn and fed more cattle. Someday, I'd like to see if I can figure out what the yield of beef per bushel of corn was between those two situations.

    I have noticed that grocery stores charge more for "jumbo" fruit, but the flavor is better in smaller fruits. The nutrient level may not be any better in those jumbos, as Mother Nature only has so much to give regardless of the size of the package. Empty calories don't help anybody.

    Just remember, most of these studies are being done by corporations with a stake in the outcome. Small farmers don't fund scientific studies, they just find out what works best. It would be nice if the government would fund some impartial studies that looked at the whole spectrum, although I don't think anybody understands it completely yet. If they did, we would understand protein folding and the term "junk DNA" would not be used.

    Anyway, don't believe everything you read.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Bob Pendleton, 27 Apr 2013 @ 1:33am

    Wrong solution

    The important stress of an expanding population is not food, it's energy, with resultant global warming. Any true solution to the planetary energy crisis requires a smaller, more prosperous population, not a larger one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2013 @ 6:08am

    Re: what is organic farming?

    You might be surprised to find out what is in some of that processed food.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2013 @ 6:18am

    Re: Bad assumption

    Sustainable farming is something to strive for, not sure whether it is capable of supporting the population.

    Certainly the effects of modern farming are not optimal. Fertilizer runoff causing blooms in lakes, manure in the produce causing E.coli illness, etc ... seems it will only get worse and then there are the ag gag bills attempting to stop dissemination of knowledge of these problems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    artp (profile), 27 Apr 2013 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re: Bad assumption

    I don't know if sustainable ag can support the population, but it can support the planet, and that is a prerequisite for supporting the population.

    Rant independent of your comments:

    And most food problems are caused by war and political corruption. Food is hoarded, or it isn't given to certain populations. And sometimes relief organizations aren't allowed in certain parts of a country. Reform the governments and you reform the food problems somewhat.

    IFF the planet can be fully utilized can we feed the whole world. What do you think the yields have been in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and other hot spots around the world? How do land mines affect ag output?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Wolfy, 27 Apr 2013 @ 11:43am

    In the Future, Monsanto will own patents on the seeds of all food and feed crops.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2013 @ 2:15am

    Re: Re: Bad assumption

    well, if the population cannot be supported sustainably, we're screwed- sustainable agriculture means growing food w/o screwing up the land in the process. using unsustainable methods strips the land of it's nutrients, which will eventually render it unusable for agriculture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2013 @ 2:30am

    Re: what is organic farming?

    organic farming means no artificial inputs: manure used for fertilizer, cows reared on grass & silage with antibiotics only used if an animal is actually sick (yes, factory-farmed animals are routinely fed antibiotics. it's the only reason they don't lose more animals to disease. (that, and the fact that your average factory farmed chicken is something like two weeks old at slaughter. For comparison, your average free-range chicken is about a year old, and generally tastier)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2013 @ 2:45am

    Re: Wrong solution

    yes and no; the current important stress is energy, but food is actually more important.

    not to mention, energy is only an issue insofar as the planet is being wrecked in pursuit of it; that's why futuristic shows normally feature nuclear fusion used for energy; it's (long-term) likely to be the best bet for sustainable energy (minimal radioactive waste, plus the plants themselves are safer- if a nuclear fission reaction escapes containment, you have a disaster. If containment fails on nuclear fusion, it stops almost immediately.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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