A special issue of Nature recently publsihed offers a really accessible account of the challenges and opportunities facing us over the next 2 decades as we try to navigate the future facing us with 'perfect storm' of rising temperatures and numbers of mouths to feed with, cheap fuel, water and other resources becoming scarcer.
"What is needed is a second green revolution — an approach that Britain's Royal Society aptly describes as the “sustainable intensification of global agriculture”. Such a revolution will require a wholesale realignment of priorities in agricultural research. There is an urgent need for new crop varieties that offer higher yields but use less water, fertilizers or other inputs — created, for example, through long-neglected research on modifying roots — and for crops that are more resistant to drought, heat, submersion and pests. Equally crucial is lower-tech research into basics such as crop rotation, mixed farming of animals and plants on smallholder farms, soil management and curbing waste. (Between one-quarter and one-third of the food produced worldwide is lost or spoiled.)
Lots of opportunities for our researchers and businesses to innovate spectacularly here: and if you want some inspiring UK stories in this connection look no further than Syngenta's Golden Rice partnership work (incorporating extra Vitamin A into the grain by GM) or Nottingham University's work on introducing nitrogen fixation into cereal crop roots reported in this issue.
Please let us know if you have any more good news and innovation stories from your research that we can share with a wider community