Global food productivity lecture opens minds to sustainable agriculture

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Many people have heard the term “sustainable agriculture,” but they may not know what it entails and how it affects the global economy.

At a Chuck and Sue Rice International Agronomy Lecture at Kansas State on Monday, Achim Dobermann, director and chief executive at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, Herts, United Kingdom, provided his knowledge and views of what the future sustainability of agriculture might look like.

Dobermann said the new 17 Sustainable Development Goals support a framework to guide all countries in sustainable development. Using intensification, producers can increase production of agricultural products on existing land while reducing the impact on the environment, Dobermann said.

“Society, at large, is not keeping the pace it needs with technological changes that are to come,” Dobermann said.

Dobermann said people in this world are afraid of change, which makes it very difficult for them to accept those changes, especially with rapidly developing technologies used for production agriculture.

In the Sustainable Development Goals that Dobermann talks about, he said almost half are feared by the agriculture industry.

However, he described how productivity in agriculture will be able to continue to grow in countries around the world with four certain scenarios that help with shaping global food systems.

These four scenarios include requiring productivity to be efficient, inclusive, sustainable and have nutritious and healthy products.

“I always thought that the only way to improve production in agriculture was just by implementing the use of (genetically modified organisms) and by getting people to accept them, but as he explained intensification, I never realized that by intensifying that productivity you can increase the output without increasing farmland,” Danielle Comstock, sophomore in agricultural communications and journalism, said. “I really liked that he mentioned all of the countries overall agreeing on the same 17 goals and utilizing their inputs to increase productivity overall as an aspect.”

There was a wide variety of people who attended the lecture, including students from other departments outside of agronomy in the College of Agriculture.

“There are a lot of great opportunities in global agriculture,” Josie Reilly, junior in agricultural education, said. “It will be important that it will become more of an area of interest for agriculturalists and that we can really focus on developing countries and becoming more involved in global food systems.”

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