Monday, February 7, 2011

Ag Provides Sustainability for a Rapidly Growing Population

Submitted by Barry E. Nelson, Media Relations Manager for John Deere
I was recently contacted by National Geographic about a year-long special series on the impact of the global population growing to 7 billion by the end of this year. This surprised me because I knew there were 6 billion people in the world – but now, very quickly, this will rise to 7 billion by the end of the year!

Click here to view a short YouTube video from National Geographic on this population growth.

I thought it was a good sign that a major consumer publication was highlighting the challenges of a rapidly growing population, and how we will provide food, fuel, infrastructure and services to 9 billion by the year 2045. And, we must do this sustainably with less land, water, fertilizer and other inputs.

This year, we will celebrate Ag Day in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 15th. There has never been a more urgent need for everyone in agriculture to pull together to help promote the great accomplishments of production agriculture.

In the past 10 years, farmers have increased yields while using less land, water, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and other inputs. They have been the experts on sustainability (before sustainability was a popular topic) and producers have learned to bring greater efficiency in providing safe, healthy food to a growing population. 

But this is not good enough! By 2030, grain producing land per capita will drop to just one-third of what it was in 1950. Water needs will be 17% higher than water availability. Larger government agencies around the world will have more regulations and restrictions on how to produce food, fiber and fuel.  More people will live in cities than rural areas and they will be further removed from the rural culture of our forefathers.

We do have a solution for all of this!  It is based on good science and agronomy, capitalizes on the strength of free enterprise and global trade, and focuses on advancements we are making daily with innovation and new technology.

From the equipment side, we are building smarter machines that run more efficiently, cover more acres in less time with less fuel, and wirelessly communicate with operators, farm managers, dealers and ag consultants. Tractors, combines, sprayers and other self-propelled machines are communicating back to producers and dealers on their overall performance and proactively warn of any performance problems through remote diagnostics.

The overall cab environment on equipment is more comfortable and, through GPS, can steer automatically through the field with greater accuracy and less fatigue for the operator.  The large, comfortable cabs have truly become “field offices” where operators can multitask with smart phone, wireless technology.

Add to this all the innovations in seed technology, fertilizer and crop protection products -- and the ability to deliver these inputs with great accuracy -- the producer of the future will be up to the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. 

Our job now is to make sure government officials, national and state leaders, and consumers are aware of the challenges of population growth. We must all work together to develop long-term strategies to feed and fuel the world of the future. 

We invite everyone in the Ag Industry to participate in the Washington, D.C., event on March 15th. Click here for more details.

We also encourage you to have your own local event on that day … or any time that week to promote Ag Day to your own customers and communities.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me or any board member of the Ag Council of America. Your help would be greatly appreciated!