Gallery: Food Demand to Double by 2050, Urban Agriculture to Become Inc...


A new report from researchers at the University of Minnesota says that the world’s food demand will double by 2050, however thankfully there is a gaping hole in their research – the team neglected to consider advancements in urban farming, which could provide agricultural solutions for Earth’s growing human population (as it is already doing in places like Havana, Cuba). The University of Minnesota researchers estimate that an area the size of the United States would need to be cleared by developing nations in order to make enough to feed their growing communities, and that clearing that area will significantly increase carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere leading to increased climate change. Or, we could build farms on empty urban lots, on city rooftops and in community spaces and feed ourselves on the open land we already have by using new technologies being developed in empty storefronts in London and high-tech laboratories nestled into Subway sandwich shops in Japan.

Agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions could double by 2050 if current trends in global food production continue,” said David Tilman, Regents Professor of Ecology in the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences. “Global agriculture already accounts for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions.” Unfortunately, though they’ve released an enlightening report, the team seems to offer only simple solutions of trying to get richer nations to help poorer nations increase crop yield and use nitrogen fertilizers more efficiently. For some reason, they completely leave out all of the innovative advancements being made in the world of agricultural sustainability.

This study presents a huge issue that is facing the world in more arenas than just agriculture. If we are to solve these daunting problems that are staring the human race in the face we’ve got to think outside the box of conventionality. In the report, the researchers from the University of Minnesota offer up three different scenarios. In order to make enough room to grow plants first off we could clear more land, secondly we could increase yields on current agricultural land or finally we could do a combination of both. Perhaps the researchers working on this team didn’t look out their windows at the lawns that most definitely spread out from the building they are researching in and think that, “by golly, there’s some open space right there. Let’s plant a vegetable garden and feed ourselves.”

Via Bloomberg


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  1. Bruno Domingues February 7, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    These studies and article both completely miss the future… Vertical Hydroponic Farming. I have no idea why people still think of farming as .. soil farming. That has been obsolete for a while now.

    There are designs available of hydroponic farm skyscrapers with 20+ floors, two of those can feed an entire city.

    I still see articles speaking about needing huge amounts of space for farming… how ridiculous… you don’t. Think vertical not horizontal, plenty of space in 3 dimensions!

  2. Rox Sen November 23, 2011 at 9:48 am

    The reason many in the US are missing the opportunity in urban agriculture is because most of it is currently not-profit based. The next important step is for cities to harness the economic opportunities of urban agriculture. This will require training a large number of residents in appropriately scaled commercial farming systems and microenterprise development and getting them up and operational quickly. The SPIN-Farming system, now being practiced throughout the US and Canada, is one way this can be accomplished. SPIN stands for S-mall P-lot IN-tensive, and it makes it possible to earn significant income from land bases under an acre in size by growing common vegetables. Minimal infrastructure, reliance on hand labor to accomplish most farming tasks, utilization of existing water sources to meet irrigation needs, and operating close to markets all keep investment and overhead costs low. SPIN-Farming can be implemented much like a franchise because it provides a business concept, a professional identity, marketing advice, financial benchmarks and a detailed day-to-day workflow. In standardizing the system and creating a reproducible process, it really isn’t any different from McDonald’s. This systematized approach to farming greatly reduces development and startup time, eliminates much initial trial and error and increases the chances of success. SPIN therefore removes the two big barriers to entry for first generation farmers – land and capital – and shows how to incorporate agriculture into the built environment in an economically viable manner. These entrepreneurial neighborhood-based farms will provide a cornerstone for food security as well as a broad and diversified urban agriculture industry that will have significant economic impact.

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