Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Land

Just under 40% of the entire terrestrial surface of our planet is used for agriculture, the vast majority of this for pasture. The land area which can be defined as wilderness – areas where humans have little influence – accounts for around 20% of the total land area and this extent is diminishing. These wilderness areas are, however, vital for the continued existence of wildlife plant species, and ecosystem services. As human populations grow and their lifestyle and consumption patterns become more resource demanding, the pressure on land use is increasing, and the multiple uses we have for land are often in competition with one another. Different cultures define ownership and rights to use land in contrasting ways, making land not only a precious resource but often a focus of contention too.

31 March 2015

Some scientists have suggested that Africa's wet savannahs could be ideal for growing crops needed to meet the growing demand for food and bioenergy. In this paper however, researchers from Princeton University and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) warn that farmland conversion of these savannahs will come at a much higher cost than previously thought.

25 March 2015

This systematic review evaluates the environmental impact of 49 dietary scenarios and shows that shifts in consumption could reduce diet-related GHG emissions and land use demand by up to 50%. The paper states that the amount and type of meat in the diet mainly affects the improvement potential. The research also identifies and addresses research gaps and key methodological aspects influencing outcomes.

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26 February 2015

Abstract

Our global food system is undergoing rapid change. Since the global food crisis of 2007-2008, a range of new issues have come to public attention, such as land grabbing, food prices volatility, agrofuels and climate change. Peasant social movements are trying to respond to these challenges by organizing from the local to the global to demand food sovereignty.

18 February 2015

An article from Science Daily reports on how scientists, advisors and communications specialists have come together to examine whether beef production can help restore ecosystems. They have started to examine the adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing management technique: this involves using small-sized fields to provide short periods of grazing for livestock and long recovery periods for fields.

26 November 2014

Nitrogen is a necessary element for crop and livestock growth, and protein intake is essential for a balanced human diet. This study examines efforts to improve nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in agriculture, and reduce unintended losses of nitrogen (N) to the environment. The paper particularly looks at how it is possible to offset reactive nitrogen (Nr) and achieve so called nitrogen-neutrality.

26 November 2014

No-till farming is a core principle of conservation agriculture where the soil is left relatively undisturbed from harvest to planting. This paper argues that no-till farming appears to hold promise for boosting crop yields only in dry regions, not in cool, moist areas of the world such as Northern Europe.

25 September 2014

This report from Oxfam discusses large-scale partnerships between governments in Africa and donors and multinational companies. “Moral Hazard? ‘Mega’ public–private partnerships in African agriculture” is as the name suggests critical of these partnerships (PPP) and questions whether these partnerships lead to poverty eradication and improved rural livelihoods. The report argues that this way of mobilizing funds for the agricultural sector is often unproven and risky.

5 September 2014

In a debate between George Monbiot and L hunter Lovins in The Guardian, the issue of impacts and evidence of livestock grazing is discussed. Monbiots article “Eat more meat and save the world: the latest implausible farming miracle” can be found here while L. Hunter Lovins’ article “Why George Monbiot is wrong: grazing livestock can save the world” can be read here.

5 September 2014

The International Dairy Federation (IDF), the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the IFCN Dairy Research Network (IFCN) have collaborated on an extensive study on international dairy feeding systems to explore how differences within these systems for dairy cows, water buffaloes, sheep, and goats and between large and smallholders can affect a range of issues - from the nutritional content of the milk to the level of GHG emissions involved in the production process. Each of the three organizations had differing stakes in the research. 

5 September 2014

This paper published in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - looks at the environmental costs of food production and in particular livestock based food production.  The paper is based on annual 2000–2010 data for land, irrigation water, and fertilizer from the USDA, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Energy.

30 July 2014

Ten years after the first Year Book in this series appeared, a special e-book anniversary edition – UNEP Year Book 2014 – presents a fresh look at ten issues highlighted over the past decade.

22 July 2014

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)  has launched a new report on sustainable diets - People, Plate and Planet, describing dietary choices that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pressures on land. The report considers nutrition, GHG emissions and land use and states that the most significant impact on these areas comes from what we eat, not where it is from or how much packaging there is around it.

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