Agriculture is the main source of food for the world population. In 2015, agriculture and ag-related businesses contributed $992 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product and in 2017, there were over 2 million farms nationwide, covering over 40% of the land across America. The global agriculture industry is an enormous production engine that is relied on for the livelihood of the seven and a half billion people on Earth both in the immediate present and distant future.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines food security as “When all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” At times, food security in the U.S. is a quality of life that can be easily taken for granted. Thanks to the 3.2 million farmers who painstakingly produce food for national and international citizens food security is not a day to day issue. But, as we consider the global population growth expected in the future, and greater environmental challenges, global food security will become an increasing challenge in the years ahead.
Rapid population growth certainly contributes to the considerable number of people living without adequate nourishment. It seems like simple math—more people equals more mouths to feed. But population control isn’t a particularly practical solution, and anyways the problem of food security is much heavier and more complex when you factor in things like agricultural efficiency, climate change, public policy, and extreme poverty.
So, if food security is such a major and overwhelming global problem, what can we do as individuals to diminish malnourishment in future years? No single farmer is going to solve world hunger by employing a few tips and tricks, but as land stewards, agriculturists, green industry professionals, and the public come together, real change can be affected.
Sustainability naturally comes into play if you’re talking about food security because it’s all about making sure that resources cannot be depleted and are maintained at a balanced level. Considering that the world will likely be populated by well over 9 billion people by 2050, it is crucial that farmers begin employing sustainable practices now so that we can retain resources and ensure food security for the largest portion possible of the future’s population.
According to FAO, it is estimated that 95% of our food is directly or indirectly produced on our soils, meaning that ample food security is crucially reliant on healthy soils. The development in agricultural technology puts a lot of strain on natural soil composition, so farmers have heightened responsibility for developing and protecting the integrity and structure, which you can do employing sustainable methods. If soils are not well cared for, they become depleted, rearing them ineffectual for future generations and imperiling their food security. Fortunately, farmers throughout the U.S. are innovating breakthrough techniques and management practices to protect and preserve soils and are leading the way towards sustainable production.
The benefits of maintaining healthy soils are not limited to environmental and climate impacts, but also benefit growers by allowing them to gain a greater return on investment, spend less on water and fertilizer, and reduce erosion. The US Department of Agriculture recommends four key ways to maintain soil health: minimizing disturbance events like tillage and overgrazing, maximizing soil coverage, augmenting biodiversity, and expanding the presence of living roots. At Cool Planet, we commend the USDA and their recommendations and have innovated Cool Terra® to serve a complementary role in soil health management practices.
Farmers and growers across the U.S. who are focusing on the health of their soils to ensure lasting productivity for future generations and employing no-till, cover crop, and reduced disturbance practices and are able to enhance the impact of those practices with the use of Cool Terra®. Cool Terra serves as an additional tool in growers’ soil health toolboxes because it can improve key soil performance characteristics and lead to greater productivity and sustainability. How does Cool Terra® work? Through cation and ion exchange capacity, extensive porosity, and high surface area, the durable, granular, organic material can increase water and nutrient retention, add structure to the soil, and provide an environment for microbial growth. Cool Terra® has been shown to improve plant establishment through quicker germination and increased root development. It also benefits the environment by integrating fixed carbon back into the soil.
Today, now more than ever, we all have a responsibility to ensure the long-lasting fertility of our lands to provide food security for the growing global population. We are appreciative of the innovative growers in the U.S. who value the enormous role soil health plays in our future and our protecting and preserving the resource. If farmers ignored the health of their soils and employed practices that depleted soils, future food security would be greatly jeopardized. Fortunately, farmers, growers, land stewards, and green industry professionals today are making giant strides forward in promoting soil health and are thinking about feeding today’s population and leaving fertile land available for future generations.