Increases in crop productivity achieved between the 1960s and 1980s are attributable to advances in sciences and the significant use of fossil fuel-powered farm equipment and machinery, intensive tillage, irrigation and chemical inputs. Modern mechanization, particularly in developed countries, has helped enhance productivity and production with the lowest cost. In most developing countries, particularly in Asia and Latin America, modern mechanization has also successfully contributed to enhance agricultural productivity. The use of mineral fertilizers has also been instrumental in this regard, with at least one-third of crop yield increases attributable to the application of mineral fertilizers. In addition, irrigated agriculture contributes 40 percent of the world’s food production.
Crop production and energy uncertainty
Production intensification through use of fossil fuel based inputs was made possible largely due to the availability of cheap oil. However, there is significant uncertainty concerning the price and availability of energy needed to power farm operations and produce key inputs, principally fertilizers. It is also widely recognized that the gains in crop production and productivity were often accompanied by negative effects on agriculture’s natural resource base. This jeopardizes future productive potential and reduces the productivity of agricultural inputs. There is a clear to need to promote energy-smart approaches to crop production.
last updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013