Massive experiments are needed to perfect approaches in different parts of the world and that is where New Zealand comes in. They want a worldwide collaboration on this problem to ensure agriculture can be sustained. They have offered a plan. I am hopeful that the USDA, associations of farmers across the globe, and other nations will heed the call. Without massive efforts there are dire consequences and tough choices. In fact, much higher food costs would be the least of our problems.
No matter the ultimate solution, it is probable that we will need to grow less corn to feed animals. Any one who knows the facts about the problems of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that feed corn and other grains to fatten animals, must believe that less feed corn and fewer CAFOs is a very good thing. It will be healthier for the farmers, land, water, animals and all of us, who suffer from harmful animal fats and overuse of antibiotics caused by CAFO systems.
So, I am thrilled that we can now begin talking about the nitrogen challenge at the core of civilization’s need for a sustainable food system. Thank you Blake, Michael, Troy, and NPR for starting the conversation.
Here in the northeast where my familys farm we have the asset of "poor man's fertilizer" because snow puts a lot on our fields. We use manure too.
In hotter places, where it is better to grow crops this is a big issue.
Like to hear about more possible solutions.
I think animal and vegetable farming together is an interesting idea because manure is such an asset!
Thanks. I agree more legumes, less meat, at least corn finished. I could still see lots of chicken and other livestock that sufficiently gain on a sustainable mix of plants, insects on a piece of ground. Yes the transition could be painful. My question is: without synth N or mined N can we feed 9 billion? Yesterday, Josh Viertel, President of Slow Food USA, gave a talk at Sonoma State at which he said, last year, 2008, according to the UN, the world produced enough food for 11 billion people. The problem is distribution and affordability. If that is true, I am more hopeful.