Ag’s Efficiency Reduces Environmental Impact

A new report shows improvements in agriculture’s impact on the environment.

The Field To Market study by the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture demonstrates that during the past 20 years, the industry “has become more efficient in utilizing resources and increasing productivity, which decreases its impact on the environment,” says Howard Minigh, president and CEO of CropLife International. “Field to Market is an excellent model for illustrating the impact agricultural advancements can have in achieving sustainable agriculture. Our industry believes it can become a standard worldwide for measuring agriculture’s impact.”

Field to Market quantifies the impact of corn, soybean, cotton, and wheat production on land use, water use, energy use, soil loss, and the climate between 1987 and 2007. The plant science industry has made significant contributions to agriculture during this time period, which have supported the following progress towards sustainable agriculture:

Preserving topsoil through conservation tillage is enabled by herbicides, biotech crops, and direct seeding equipment. Conservation tillage can help reduce soil erosion by an estimated 50% to 98%.

Global fuel savings associated with switching to conservation tillage farming systems and less frequent passes in farm equipment over the field made possible by biotech crops and the use of broadspectrum herbicides have prevented carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to removing almost 500,000 cars from the road. Since 1996, the permanent carbon dioxide savings are equal to removing 2.05 million cars off the road for one year.

Crop protection products have reduced losses due to weeds, insects, and plant diseases, making agriculture more productive and a much more efficient user of land, water, and other resources.

Since the introduction of biotech crops in 1997, there has been a marked increase in the consistency of yields. The most detailed study to date shows that plant biotechnology helped increase U.S. agricultural production 8.34 billion pounds on 123 million acres in 2005.

(Source: CropLife International)

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