There were 4 billion people on earth to celebrate the first World Environment Day in 1975, today there are 7.7 billion¹. In that year the world agricultural area was 55 million square kilometres, 45 years on that area has increased by less than 500,000 square kilometres². So, while the world population has soared by 90%, the world’s farmers are feeding those people on just 1% more land.
This mammoth achievement is a testament to the dedication of farmers and the modern science and technology they use. But while it is right to celebrate, farmers have an even bigger challenge in the future – to continue to feed a growing world population and improve the world’s environment.
Given its scale and importance, agriculture inevitably has a significant environmental footprint, but it is one of the few industries which can not only reduce its impact but have a positive environmental effect. A report by the Climate Use & Land Alliance suggests that annual carbon emissions from agriculture could be reduced by up to 90% a year by increasing productivity and input efficiency, altering meat production and reducing food waste³.
Controlling weeds, pests and disease is key to improving farm productivity. ADAMA is at the forefront of developing high-quality, good-value effective and targeted crop protection products which can enhance crop production while enabling the wider environment to thrive.
ADAMA has invested in energy-efficient production facilities, providing clear instructions as to how products can be used as safely and effectively as possible. The use of data technology is also transforming production. Farmers in the UK are using a WaterAware app to ensure they apply products at a time that is best for the crop, while protecting rivers and water courses. A similar system in Australia is helping to protect the Great Barrier Reef, with other apps being developed across the world.
ADAMA’s partnership with SwarmFarm is helping to develop precision robots designed to plant, protect, fertilize, irrigate and harvest crops, while greater knowledge of a plant’s needs allows the SupPlant system to reduce water use by 30% and improve yields by 5%. ADAMA is also teaming up with others to help farmers produce crops and protect the environment. A project with John Deere and start-up Farm Dog is set to help transform the way farmers apply crop protection products.
It is clear that the precision use of safe and reliable crop protection products is essential to feed and protect the world. Alternatives such as organic farming may have a place, but a recent report in journal Nature suggested that a conversion to full organic would lead to a 16 to 33% increase in the global farmland area and an 8% to 15% reduction in the forest area⁴. By using our existing farmland productively and sensitively, we also protect our most vulnerable and valuable habitats.
³ Climate & Land Use Alliance http://www.climateandlandusealliance.org/reports/strategies-for-mitigating-climate-change-in-agriculture/