Climate change is already impacting many areas of our lives. It is affecting our infrastructures, livelihoods, and soon our food production.
In the past, it was projected that population growth would soon outrun food production. But thanks to scientific breakthroughs, hybrid crop varieties and fertilisers have increased agricultural yields in the past decades. But this pace of production will soon be affected by climate change.
Food production to feed the world’s population will require unprecedented amounts of water, fertiliser, and energy.
As the temperature rises, areas known for their peak conditions to grow certain crops like wheat, maise, rice, and soybeans may shift poleward. Farmers may require moving crop production to offset losses from climate change effects.
The Nature Geoscience research article, “Increased food production and reduced water use through optimised crop distribution“, shows that a large share of farmlands is being used for crops that do not maximise their nutritional or economic value.
Changing what is planted on these farmlands could increase production enough to feed 825 million more people while reducing water use from irrigation and rain between 12 to 14%.
The Economist article, “Climate change will force farmers to reshuffle what is grown where“, discusses what crops will decrease yield and increase yield due to changes in growing conditions such as less rain, more rain, hotter temperatures, etc.
Farmers need to change what crops to plant to optimise their yield, or some farmers can also opt for genetically modified varieties to adapt to the growing conditions, the Economist article mentioned.
UChicago News’ “RNA breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes, rice” features an exciting breakthrough that a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University discovered.
More from the UChicago News article:
The RNA does only read the DNA blueprint and carries it out, but it also regulates which part of it gets expressed. By placing chemical markers on the RNA, they can modulate which proteins are made and how many. The scientists focused on the protein called FTO, the first protein that erases chemical marks on the RNA. The protein worked on the RNA to affect cell growth in humans and other animals, so they tried inserting the gene into rice plants.
The result amazed them as the rice grew three times more under laboratory conditions, and when they tested it out in the field, the plant produced 50% more mass and yielded 50% more rice. The rice also has longer roots, photosynthesises more efficiently, and is more drought tolerant.
When the procedure was tried on potatoes, it yielded similar results, suggesting a degree of universality among crops. The prospect excited the scientists because of its potential to address the problems of poverty, climate change impacts, and food security.