Feeding 9 Billion In 2050
June 10, 2013

New Model Helps Solve How To Feed 9 Billion People In 2050

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

A new model report in the journal Nature Climate Change helps solve the problem of world hunger once the Earth's population hits 9 billion by mid-century.

Scientists unveiled an all-encompassing modeling system that integrates multiple crop simulations with improved climate change models. The model helps predict global wheat yields while reducing political and socio-economic influences that can skew data and planning effects.

“Quantifying uncertainties is an important step to build confidence in future yield forecasts produced by crop models,” said Bruno Basso, Michigan State University ecosystem scientist. “By using an ensemble of crop and climate models, we can understand how increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, along with temperature increases and precipitation changes, will affect wheat yield globally.”

The team's System Approach for Land-Use Sustainability (SALUS) model can help guide the world's developed and developing countries as they adapt to changing climate and create policies that improve food security. It is able to forecast crop, soil, water and nutrient conditions in the current and future climates. It also can evaluate crop rotations, planting dates, irrigation and fertilizer use.

“We can change the scenarios, run them simultaneously and compare their outcomes,” Basso said. “It offers us a great framework to easily compare different land-management approaches and select the most efficient strategies to increase crop yield and reduce environmental impact such as nitrate leaching and greenhouse gas emission.”

Basso and colleagues simulated yield from 27 different wheat crop models to test SALUS. They forecasted the impact of changes in temperature, precipitation and carbon dioxide emissions on wheat yield from contrasting environment across the planet.

“I have the ambitious goal to enhance scientific knowledge for living in a better world, and hopefully with less poverty and enough food for the planet,” Basso said.

In December, 2012 Mediaplanet Publishing released an 8-page publication in collaboration with leaders of the American agriculture industry about how they plan to tackle the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050.

A year earlier, the DuPont Advisory Committee on Agriculture Innovation and Productivity released a report detailing recommendations for closing the food productivity gap through tight collaboration of governments and NGOs. This committee recommended producing more food by increasing the nutrition value and making food accessible and affordable to everyone, addressing the challenge in a more sustainable and comprehensive way.

According to DuPont, global food production will need to be 70 percent greater than today's levels in order to feed the global population by 2050.

“If we work together and listen to farmers of all disciplines, we can tackle this challenge. Together we can do what no one can do alone," said DuPont Executive Vice President James C. Borel.