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

Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing

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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).

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Assessing future risks to agricultural productivity, water resources and food security: How can remote sensing help?
Series title:
Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing
Volume
78
Issue:
8
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
ASPRS
Publisher location:
Bethesda, MD
Contributing office(s):
Western Geographic Science Center
Description:
10 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing
First page:
773
Last page:
782
Other Geospatial:
Earth