Title

Assessing future risks to agricultural productivity, water resources and food security: How can remote sensing help?

Abstract

Although global food production has been rising, the world sti ll faces a major food security challenge. Over one billion people are currently undernourished (Wheeler and Kay, 2010). By the 2050s, the human population is projected to grow to 9.1 billion. Over three-quarters of these people will be living in developing countries, in regions that already lack the capacity to feed their populations . Under current agricultural practices, the increased demand for food would require in excess of one billion hectares of new cropland, nearly equivalent to the land area of the United States, and would lead to significant increases in greenhouse gases (Tillman et al., 2011). Since climate is the primary determinant of agricultural productivity, changes to it will influence not only crop yields, but also hydrologic balances and supplies of inputs to managed farming systems, and may lead to a shift in the geographic location of some crops . Therefore, not only must crop productivity (yield per unit of land; kg/m2) increase, but water productivity (yield per unit of water or "crop per drop"; kg/m3) must increase as well in order to feed a burgeoning population against a backdrop of changing dietary consumption patterns, a changing climate and the growing scarcity of water and land (Beddington, 2010). The impact from these changes wi ll affect the viability of both dryland subsistence and irrigated commodity food production (Knox, et al., 2010a). Since climate is a primary determinant of agricultural productivity, any changes will influence not only crop yields, but also the hydrologic balances, and supplies of inputs to managed farming systems as well as potentially shifting the geographic location for specific crops . Unless concerted and collective action is taken, society risks worldwide food shortages, scarcity of water resources and insufficient energy. This has the potential to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and migration as people flee the worst-affected regions to seck refuge in "safe havens", a situation that Beddington described as the "perfect storm" (2010).

Department

Natural Resources and the Environment

Publication Date

8-1-2012

Journal Title

Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing

Publisher

American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

Document Type

Article

Rights

© 2012 American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

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