Redrawing the global map of crop distribution on existing farmland could help meet growing demand for food and biofuels in coming decades, while significantly reducing water stress in agricultural areas, according to a new study. Published today in Nature Geoscience, the study is the first to attempt to address both food production needs and resource sustainability simultaneously and at a global scale.
The results show that “there are a lot of places where there are inefficiencies in water use and nutrient production,” says lead author Kyle Davis, a postdoctoral researcher with Columbia University‘s Earth Institute. Those inefficiencies could be fixed, he says, by swapping in crops that have greater nutritional quality and lower environmental impact.
Not luck of the draw exactly but it was a random mutation in a convenient host that led to the discovery of a gene responsible for fungal disease that wrecks up to one fifth of the world’s cereal production, or hundreds of millions of tonnes of crops.
Near identical genes are also present in the fungi that cause vegetables to rot, trees to die and people to scratch, itch or struggle to breathe.
Every five years, Rothamsted Research develops a revised science strategy, in order to deliver the knowledge and innovation required to address grand challenges faced by farmers and society for food production and environmental sustainability. Rothamsted Research is a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) strategically supported institute and investment by the BBSRC in Rothamsted’s science strategy, follows a robust, independent and international peer review process.