Crop Protection: Fighting for Food Security

The United States Census Bureau states that world population is expected to reach more than 9 billion by year 2050. With continuously less land and resources, this is a statistic that causes many agriculturalists to lose sleep time and time again.

In much of the world, the percentage of those producing our food has decreased dramatically in the last century. With the evolution of agriculture, the average consumer has grown further away from the farm with every generation. Because of this shift, 98% of the population in the United States and Canada relies on the remaining 2% to provide food and fiber. Leaving farmers to answer the difficult question, “How do we sustainably feed the world by 2050?”

A recent Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) publication, written by Susan T. Radcliffe and other well-respected authors, examined the current plant protection revolution—the development of methods used to control disease, insects, and weeds. The authors stress the need for new technologies and integrated crop protection systems to help minimize environmental impacts, protect pollinators and other ecosystems, conserve natural resources, and increase farm productivity.

As growing season is in full swing throughout the Midwest and other parts of the world, weeds, insects, and diseases begin making their pesky appearance. Research into the possibilities of integrated crop protection and its further development is crucial to arriving at environmentally and economically sustainable production systems with maximum resilience. Research shows that using multiple methods and techniques may be the solution farmers are looking for. An article from Science & Technology Research News (STRN) says biodiversity is key!
As a multidisciplinary approach to adopt best management practices is along the horizon, food producers from all steps of production need to continue working together to manage economics, research, regulations, land stewardship, incentives, and new technological advancements. Drone technology has been ballyhooed as the “must have” high-tech crop scouting tool for years. New technology that can accurately conduct plant population counts and distinguish between crops and weeds might take producers to new heights.
Additionally, with the help of researchers and extension specialists, identification and management tips allow producers to get ahead of the possible threats of pests, weeds, and diseases. Adam J. Varenhorst from South Dakota State University Extension provides insight on how to properly identify weevils in your alfalfa stand. Dwight Lingenfelter and William S. Curran from Penn State Extension present management guidelines for better weed control in hay fields and pastures. Lastly, Andres Thostenson from North Dakota State University gives application advice for pesticides during periods of high temperature and low humidity.

By: Kylie Peterson

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