Food, Fuel, and Plant Nutrient Use in the Future
By Mel Fabrikant Monday, March 18, 2013, 09:00 AM EDT
A New CAST Issue Paper Examines the Important Connections between the World’s Needs for Food and Fuel
and the Thoughtful Use of Nutrients
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa. How well we research, plan, and implement the proper use of nutrients could shape how well we eat in the near future. This publication looks at the processes shaping the current nutrient situation and the resulting requirements as world food production evolves during the next 40 years.
The world’s ability to meet food demands will depend on advances in crop productivity through genetic improvement, soil conservation and management, and the efficient use of nutrients. The authors examine the relationship among food production, land use, and nutrient use; the capacity and constraints to produce fertilizer nutrients; and the resulting research and development challenges.
The objective of this paper is to obtain a better understanding of the factors influencing future fertilizer nutrient requirements and availability, and the authors address the issues in the following sections:
• Population Dynamics in the World of 2050
• Food Needs to Sustain the World Population
• The Impact of Energy and Biomass Production
• Land Use and Productivity
• Applied Nutrients and Nutrient Availability
The removal of the three primary plant nutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—in the United States has been increasing and there is growing need for increased fertilizer use and thus more recovery and recycling from farm and nonfarm systems. This publication considers the importance of efficient land use and cover crops, as well as the impact of cellulosic biofuel production.
Led by the task force chair, David Zilberman, the authors cite key research, make specific observations, and point out trends that will affect food production in the coming decades. They make a strong case for the interrelated nature of food, fuel, and nutrients—and they emphasize the need to support research and development in these areas.
Task Force Authors:
David Zilberman (Chair), University of California–Berkeley
Paul E. Fixen, International Plant Nutrition Institute
Bruce Dale, Michigan State University
John L. Havlin, North Carolina State University
CAST Issue Paper 51 is available online at the CAST website, www.cast-science.org, along with many of CAST’s other scientific publications. All CAST Issue Papers and Commentaries are FREE.
CAST is an international consortium of scientific and professional societies, companies, and nonprofit organizations. It assembles, interprets, and communicates credible science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.