With the global population reaching 7 billion during 2011 and projected by the United Nations to exceed 9 billion by 2050, agriculture has never faced a more compelling challenge or exciting time. The demand for food, animal feed, fibres and biofuels will continue to grow yet the amount of land available to meet these needs will continue to fall. In short, we need to get more food out of less land while ensuring that production is sustainable, something that the Royal Society, and the Government’s Foresight report, have termed ‘Sustainable Intensification’.
- Changes to the world’s climate offer a further challenge to agricultural systems. Recent reports from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia suggest that increases in global temperatures since 1995 are statistically significant.
- The Stern Review (in 2006) reported that even modest increases in global temperatures would increase the frequency of extreme weather events such as droughts, flooding and heat waves. All of these have the potential to adversely impact on agriculture and food production.