April 23, 2015
We need a bigger table. There will be over 200,000 more people at the global dinner table tonight than were there last night. By 2050, there will be nearly 10 billion people to feed on this planet. But our population is not only growing, it’s growing wealthier, with increasing demand for food — especially meat and dairy products, requiring more agricultural production and water use. As a result of population increases and rising incomes, total food demand will likely double by 2050 (Earth Policy Institute, 2014). Read More
March 22, 2015
Water is arguably our most precious natural resource, and particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, as well as to the increasing demand for food as our global population grows to 9.6 billion by 2050. Economies and incomes are growing, fueling a revolution in global agriculture that will likely result in nearly a doubling of demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel in the next 35 years.
Currently 70 percent of extracted freshwater worldwide is used for agriculture production. In the absence of progress, water use for agriculture is estimated to grow to 89 percent by 2050, which is clearly untenable given other critical water demands. We must take action to improve how we use, conserve and manage our water supply so that future generations have the opportunity to access sufficient and sustainable sources of food and agriculture products. Read More
December 9, 2014
A cosmic-ray neutron rover may sound like something from a science-fiction film, but a University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher is developing the high-tech tool to help the military better understand the harsh environment in which it operates.
Hydrogeophysicist Trenton Franz is exploring ways to use a soil moisture detector he helped create for agriculture to enable the military to quickly and reliably survey, monitor and map soils. Read More
November 18, 2014
We have more data than ever to help guide agricultural water management, but will it lead to big gains in productivity? Yes, but only if we get the institutional arrangements right.
On a typical farm in the Midwestern U.S., there are few people about. Despite the growing global demand for food, fewer farmers are needed. Increasingly, modern machinery is now fully automated, often run remotely from a computer terminal. Even irrigation systems can be guided by satellite sourced data on groundwater and rainfall. This is fed directly into simple processors, which then drive controls and motors, allowing smart targeting of water resources to produce maximum yields. The systems are highly efficient, hugely productive and part of a continuing trend toward high-tech farming that has guaranteed food security in the West for three generations.
By contrast, in Africa and Asia, a greater proportion of the population rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, but data is often hard to come by. Read More
November 12, 2014
As I write this blog post, I am coming off of a very strong and high-quality dialogue of the 2014 Global Water for Food Conference convened by the University of Nebraska Daugherty Water for Food Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This was the 6th Global Water for Food Conference, but the first to be held outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. It was a rousing success with approximately 275 leaders from 32 countries around the world dialoguing for three days on the thematic topic of “Harnessing the Data Revolution” around water sustainability in agriculture and food. The conference was also supported with sponsorship from Monsanto, Syngenta, the Daugherty Foundation, the Global Water Initiative, and the Nebraska Corn Board. Read More
November 3, 2014
Water, data, and agricultural productivity were on the agenda at the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute’s 6th Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington, earlier this month. (The Water for Food Institute is a consultative partner of the Global Harvest Initiative.) Co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the conference attracted more than 250 participants from 25 countries. In his welcoming remarks, Roberto Lenton, founding executive director of the Daugherty Water for Food Institute, told attendees, “the data revolution can help with the productivity and sustainability of farming systems, both large and small, around the world.” Read More
October 22 2014
The Water for Food Global Conference in Seattle has concluded, and we’re heading back to Nebraska with new ideas and fresh perspectives on the ways in which data has the opportunity to improve water and food security.
But the data itself is only one piece of harnessing the data revolution, as experts made clear throughout three days of presentations and panel discussions. Read More
October 21 2014
The second day of the 2014 Water for Food Global Conference has wrapped. Today, the discussion shifted toward specific tools being used around the world to Harness the Data Revolution. Read More
October 20 2014
Jeff Raikes, former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founder of the Raikes Foundation, said it’s not hyperbole to say that global society is experiencing a data revolution. But that the revolution has yet to reach agriculture.
It’s not surprising the former Microsoft Corp. executive believes in the power of technology, and in particular Big Data. But it’s his experience as the son of a farmer to focus on how technology can help farmers increase yields, improve their livelihoods and collectively meet the food production needs of the world’s people. Read More
October 19, 2014
The sixth annual Water for Food Global Conference is underway in Seattle, Wash. USA. More than 250 participants and 23 countries are represented at this year’s event, which is focused on the use of data to improve global water and food security. Read More