Feeding the world in the decades leading up to 2050—decades that will see an increase in food demand spurred by population and income growth and stronger impacts of climate change on agriculture—will require increased and more sustainable agricultural production. To determine how to achieve such production, the authors of the study Food Security in a World of Natural Resource Scarcity used a groundbreaking modeling approach to assess the yield and food security impacts of a broad range of agricultural technologies under varying assumptions regarding climate change and technology adoption. Their approach combines process-based crop modeling of agricultural technologies with sophisticated global food demand, supply, and trade modeling. The authors’ focus was on the world’s three key staple crops: maize, rice, and wheat.
The study compares the effects that different technologies have on crop yields and the use of resources such as harvested area, water, and fertilizers. By modeling technology-induced changes in crop yields, the analysis also helps to explain how the mix of technologies may influence global food markets, particularly for developing countries, by changing food prices and trade flows, as well as calorie availability.