Existing farmland can feed another 800 million people, but for this it will be necessary to build new reservoirs and restore old irrigation systems that were previously considered ineffective. This conclusion was made by scientists from the University of California at Berkeley, whose work was published in the journal Science Advances.
Now about 37% of the land is involved in agriculture – this poses a difficult task for humanity. On the one hand, it is necessary to feed the growing world population, provided that there is practically nowhere to expand agricultural land. On the other hand, agriculture in its current form and deforestation under new pastures and fields is causing great environmental damage.
In new work, scientists tried to find a way to use existing agricultural land more efficiently. To do this, they analyzed land irrigation in 130 key agricultural areas, where almost 100 percent of plant food in the world is grown.
Then they made maps of the supply of these lands with water. The study showed that only a fifth of them are irrigated – and the rest of the land is deficient in moisture, which greatly reduces their productivity.
According to the authors of the study, the construction of new reservoirs in Russia, Africa, and Asia, as well as the restoration of old irrigation lands will allow to feed an additional 800 million people. At the same time, agricultural producers will have to spend 20% less freshwater on irrigation.