From the Ground Up - Research Drives Efficiency in Agriculture

The ability of 98% of the U.S. population not to have to worry about producing the food they consume is a tribute to the efficiency of today’s American farmer, and that efficiency has been driven by research. Craig Nessler is the director of Texas A&M Agrilife Research.

“In years gone by, 60% of the U.S. population was involved in farming, and in food production, and today it’s less than 2%, that really tells us that like me, most people get their food from people that produce that food, so that they don’t have to grow their own.”

Nessler says that while some of us have gardens, few of us could produce the quantities we’d need to feed ourselves.

“The one thing that we’ve been able to do is pretty much bend the will of our plants and animals to our own devices, and that allows us to make new products with plants, to make our animals more efficient at taking the feed that they consume and converting it into meat and eggs and so forth, milk.”

Nessler believes that we truly are in a golden age of agriculture.

“We need to be because it’s predicted by 2050 we’re going to have 9 billion people on this planet, and that’s about 2 billion more mouths to feed, and we’re running out of land in which to do it, so we’re going to have to become more efficient and better at taking what resources we have, and being more productive with them.”

Research will play a key role in helping agriculture meet this challenge.

“The good news is that we still have a lot of clever people out there working in research that are going to come up with those solutions. The genetics, we’re just beginning to understand what productivity really means for plants