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Crop Breeding for Low Input Agriculture: A Sustainable Response to Feed a Growing World Population

  • Tiffany L. Fess


    (Division of Plant & Soil Sciences, P.O. Box 6108, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA)

  • James B. Kotcon


    (Division of Plant & Soil Sciences, P.O. Box 6108, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA)

  • Vagner A. Benedito


    (Division of Plant & Soil Sciences, P.O. Box 6108, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA)

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    World population is projected to reach its maximum (~10 billion people) by the year 2050. This 45% increase of the current world population (approaching seven billion people) will boost the demand for food and raw materials. However, we live in a historical moment when supply of phosphate, water, and oil are at their peaks. Modern agriculture is fundamentally based on varieties bred for high performance under high input systems (fertilizers, water, oil, pesticides), which generally do not perform well under low-input situations. We propose a shift of research goals and plant breeding objectives from high-performance agriculture at high-energy input to those with an improved rationalization between yield and energy input. Crop breeding programs that are more focused on nutrient economy and local environmental fitness will help reduce energy demands for crop production while still providing adequate amounts of high quality food as global resources decline and population is projected to increase.

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    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 10 (October)
    Pages: 1742

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:10:p:1742-1772:d:14237
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    1. Aleklett, Kjell & Höök, Mikael & Jakobsson, Kristofer & Lardelli, Michael & Snowden, Simon & Söderbergh, Bengt, 2010. "The Peak of the Oil Age - Analyzing the world oil production Reference Scenario in World Energy Outlook 2008," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 1398-1414, March.
    2. de Fraiture, Charlotte & Wichelns, Dennis, 2010. "Satisfying future water demands for agriculture," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 97(4), pages 502-511, April.
    3. Maggio, G. & Cacciola, G., 2009. "A variant of the Hubbert curve for world oil production forecasts," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4761-4770, November.
    4. Harvey, Mark & Pilgrim, Sarah, 2011. "The new competition for land: Food, energy, and climate change," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(S1), pages S40-S51.
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