Two Challenges Will Shape Agriculture During The Next Decade:
1. Population Pressures
According to the United Nations, the global population will increase by more than two billion people in the next 40 years, and many reports have indicated that agricultural production needs to double by 2050. Industry experts agree that increased production of food, fiber and fuel will be achieved by intensified production and not by expanded arable land base. Genetic and biotech seed industries have predicted yield increases of three to four percent per year. However, to optimize the yields of advanced seeds, fertilizer inputs must be optimized to provide the greatest potential for success.
2. Regulatory Pressures
Pressure to limit the use of fertilizers is increasing. Legislative, regulatory and non-government organization activities, including legal action pertaining to nutrients in the environment, are taking place on national, regional, state and local levels:
- Assessments by the Environmental Protection Agency have assigned agriculture responsibility for 44 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorus being delivered to the Chesapeake Bay.
- The National Academy of Sciences cite nitrogen-based fertilizer application and animal feeding operation runoff as a large majority of the nutrient inputs within the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico watershed.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) concluded that 60 to 80 percent of cultivated cropland requires additional nutrient management to reduce the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus from fields.
- States throughout the country are being pressured by the federal government and environmental groups to develop additional regulations and pollution reduction strategies. These include reductions, and in some cases, bans on nutrient applications.