Technology and Agricultural Sustainability
Order ID 53563633773 Type Essay Writer Level Masters Style APA Sources/References 4 Perfect Number of Pages to Order 5-10 Pages
Technology and Agricultural Sustainability
Technology has begun to affect all aspects of our lives. They affect our lives at home, how shopping is done, and are beginning to affect how food is made. The application of technology has benefited many industries, so it was only logical that it has begun to affect and change the agricultural industry. The implementation of different technologies can help us survive amongst the current global food security crisis and climate change. Technology can help improve food production and decrease the resources necessary to grow these foods. Technology has already helped us tremendously, “global land in production today, which is roughly the size of South America, would need to be the size of South America and North America if the high yield benefits of technology were not employed” (3). Biotechnologies has allowed us to create genetically modified organisms which are more efficient and are better able to withstand the environmental changes due to climate change. In the future, biotechnologies can help improve the nutritional value in food, are resistant to pests, have drought stress tolerance, and may even improve the rate of photosynthesis (3). Additional advancements such precision technologies and climate forecasting can allow farmers to be smarter with their inputs, which allows them to be more sustainable.
With the changing climate, especially in tropical areas, plants will be subjected to more stresses that will hinder its growth. Genetic engineering has allowed scientist to better understand the biological mechanisms that occur when a plant is under stress. Because of this, they have been able to change which genes are expression in plants, and therefore allow them to continue to grow even while under stress (6). Not only have scientists been able to minimize the effects of stress, but they have also been able to control the stress a plant faces. For example, “mutations in some of the genes involved in epigenetic processes during stress were shown to cause changes in flowering times” (6). Through this research, scientists were able to determine which protein was affecting the changes in flowering time, and how that affected the entire pathway. They are now able to better control the conditions that lead early flowering (6). But biotechnology has many more benefits than helping crops be tolerant to stress. It has allowed plants to become herbicide and pest resistant. This has decreased the use of herbicide and pesticide significantly, which has also decreased the pollution from the application of these products. This has economic benefits as well, “according to an early estimate, inventing, developing and registering a new chemical in 1989 would have cost $25 million, while the cost of developing a new crop variety may be under $1 million” (7). A large problem with food security is the massive amount of food wasted. Biotechnology can increase the shelf life of crops and conserve water during storage (7). In our goal towards sustainability, many people have advocated for the decrease in livestock, as they require many more resources compared to plants. However, an argument against this change was that meats are an important source of protein and all amino acids. Now, scientists have engineered plants to contain all amino acids (7). This will allow us to shift to a vegetarian diet, which is a lot more sustainable. Whether it decreases the amount of input needed or improves the efficiency of the crops themselves, the use of biotechnology has improved agriculture tremendously.
When inputs such as water and nitrogen are applied to plants, a large amount of what is applied is not absorbed or used by the plants. Whether too much was applied, or it was not applied in an area where it could be absorbed by the crop, it results in a waste of resources. This waste can lead many problems such as pollution, erosion of soil, or soil quality, which can harm growth in future years. Use of precision technology to manage inputs such as nitrogen can “reduce potential N losses and conserve water quality” (1). The implementation of these precision tools such as Variable-Rate Technology (VRT) allows farmers to vary when, where, and how much of a certain input is given to a crop. This does not affect yields either. “Yields could be maintained with a 36% reduction in N using precision methods” (1). This allows for more productivity and decreases damage done to the environment. By VRT, nitrogen leaching can be reduced by 2.24 and 4.48 kg ha-1 (1). This prevents a decrease in the soil quality, so more nitrogen would not have to be applied in the future. By controlling the water irrigation to plants, it can reduce leaching of nutrients as well. This can lead to up to a 36.6% reduction in pollution due to the decrease of nitrogen input (1). The use of VRT can applied to any other input such as phosphorus, herbicide, or insecticide and leads reduction of any of them. The use of precision technology has shown to increase yield and be profitable. In corn, remote sensing showed a decrease in up to 60% of nitrogen and 30% in herbicide. In increase of 20.5% in yield was also reported (2). “Benefits over $100/ha are possible in higher value crops (e.g. sugar beets, cotton)” (2). The use of precision technology allows farmers to input less, which has many benefits to the environment. This also allows for large savings and an increase in profit for these farmers.
With climate change, climate variability has been affecting crop yields. Changes in rainfall or temperature can change how a farmer wants to grow his crops. By using climate models to accurately predict changes in climate, it can help improve the farmers decisions. One large application of this was in Australia, where the affects of an unexpected El Nino constantly disrupts yield within the country. In Australia, there is high seasonal variability, which makes decision making as a farmer very difficult. Based on the season, the farmer changes the amount of nitrogen used, changes the timing and how he sows his land, and changes which feed is used (4). So, by being able to predict the conditions of the next growing season, the farmer is better able to prepare. Through the use of climate models, farmers in the Australia have reduced seasonal uncertainty by 30% and have increased profits by 5%. Crop yields were also increased due to the implementation of this technology (4). This has led to $1.9 billion increase in profits can possibly lead to $20 billion in the future (3). So as you can see, using climate models can help improve farmers decision making worldwide.
Technology is going to be an important part of changing our agricultural system, so we can become more sustainable and solve the food security crisis. Through the use of biotechnology, precision technology, and climate models, we can help make our farms more sustainable. We can decrease the amount of inputs used and help the environment. All these technologies are also very profitable, so it is very logical to implement them into farms worldwide.
(1) Bongiovanni, Rodolfo, and Jess Lowenberg-DeBoer. “Precision agriculture and sustainability.” Precision agriculture5.4 (2004): 359-387.
(2) Tenkorang, Frank, and James Lowenberg-DeBoer. “On-farm profitability of remote sensing in agriculture.” Journal of Terrestrial Observation 1.1 (2008): 6.
(3) Hutchins, Scott. “The role of technology in sustainable agriculture.” IPM World Textbook. Retrieved January 14 (2009): 2010.
(4) Meinke, Holger, and Roger C. Stone. “Seasonal and inter-annual climate forecasting: the new tool for increasing preparedness to climate variability and change in agricultural planning and operations.” Climatic change 70.1-2 (2005): 221-253.
(5) Petersen, Elizabeth H., and Rob W. Fraser. “An assessment of the value of seasonal forecasting technology for Western Australian farmers.” Agricultural systems 70.1 (2001): 259-274.
(6) Mittler, Ron, and Eduardo Blumwald. “Genetic engineering for modern agriculture: challenges and perspectives.” Annual review of plant biology 61 (2010): 443-462.
(7) Guruswamy, Lakshman D. “Sustainable Agriculture: Do GMOs Imperil Biosafety?.” Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies(2002): 461-500.
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