How We Can Sustain Food Production For The Growing Population

Apr 18, 2013 12:15 PM EDT | By Jason Pollak

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As we all know, food is one of the most important resources in the world.

As Forbes points out, past civilizations such as the Mayan's have failed because they ran out of food.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the world needs to produce 70 percent more food by 2050. Although that sounds like an astronomical amount, with innovation in crop growing and biotechnology, it can be done.

According to Forbes, the world used to produce 900 million tons of grain per year. However, over the last 50 years, that number has grown to 2.6 billion tons per year.

Since 1961, the world population has tripled and many people believed then that maintaining enough crops for the growing population was impossible. Clearly innovation has proven those naysayers wrong.

One of the main problems we are facing in the future is how farms collect energy. Normally, an acre of corn in the U.S. will produce about "150 bushels of corn each year," according to Forbes.

The calories in those grains is only "1/1000th" of the sunlight collected by that acre of land, which shows farms aren't utilizing all of the solar power they receive. There's room to innovate since farmers haven't maxed out the amount of energy taken in. 

Other factors that play a role in food production are "water, nitrogen and phosphorous," Forbes said. Each limits the amount of food that can be produced on any given piece of land.

According to a study by the International Food Policy Institute, the world can produce a maximum of 72 billion tons of grain on current farmlands. We only currently produce 2.6 billion tons.

Now it is only a matter of "tapping into potential" Forbes said.

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