Agricultural Production

Abstract

World food security is threatened because agricultural production is unable to keep up with the increasing demand for food to feed a rapidly growing human population. Soil erosion due to agricultural production occurs much faster than soil formation. Water is fundamental to food production requiring 1000 L to produce 1 kg of biomass. Plants only collect less than 0.1% of energy reaching them per year. Approximately 10 kcal of fossil energy are required to produce 1 kcal of food. Finite natural resources, such as land, water and energy, limit what most technological advances in agricultural production can accomplish. If projected human population growth comes to pass, additional malnutrition and even further starvation will occur. Severe social and political disorder will also occur because agricultural production will fail to keep pace with population growth.

Key Concepts:

  • Malnutrition is more than simply not enough food or even being hungry or not but whether adequate absorption of food nutrients occurs and how successfully disease and parasitic organisms compete for nutrients with the human organism they may come to inhabit.

Keywords: agriculture; agricultural production; food; population

Figure 1.

Per capita cereal grain production in the world from 1961 to 1998. Reproduced from FAO .

Figure 2.

Hectares (millions) of cropland in cereal grains in the world from 1960 to 1998. FAO.

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Further Reading

Lal R (1999) Soil Quality and Soil Erosion. Ankeny, Iowa: Soil and Water Conservation Society. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Pimentel D (2006) Soil erosion: a food and environmental threat. Environment, Development and Sustainability 8: 119–137.

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Pimentel D and Pimentel M (2008) Food, Energy and Society, 3rd edn. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

Pimentel D, Whitecraft M, Scott ZR et al. (2010) Will limited land, water, and energy control human population numbers in the future? Human Ecology 38(5): 599–611.

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Pimentel, David(Oct 2011) Agricultural Production. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0003254.pub2]