Tomorrow’s farming will look like today’s, only more so. Crop and livestock yields per acre must triple again to protect wildlife habitat. Biotechnology will be increasingly vital. Confinement feeding will be even more important, to leave room for wildlife. Organic will prove to be a fad, as will locovores and vegetarians. Activists will be less credible than over the past 50 years.
The world’s farmers are facing the biggest challenge in their history. Expect more than 8 billion humans by 2050, with 7 billion of them affluent—compared with only 1.5 billion affluent today; trade and technology are powerful forces for increased wealth. Expect also a continuing surge in the number of companion cats and dogs, none of them vegetarian.
World food production must double by 2050, and production of meat and milk will more than double. Children need the key micronutrients of livestock products to prevent such diseases as pellagra and blindness due to severe Vitamin A deficiency. Their cognitive development also seems to benefit from high-quality protein.
Farming intensity must triple on the best land, in order to protect the poorer land which houses three-fourths of the wild species. Good farmland will become even more important, as one of the scarcest resources.
Most of the increased farm output will and must come from the best-quality land, which maximizes yields and minimizes land requirements per pound of food. It also minimizes soil erosion, humanity’s most ancient and implacable enemy.