The IFA2030 fertilizer industry strategic review exercise is looking at how how the world may change by 2030. Extreme weather and challenges to the world’s natural resources are already a regular occurrence today. Cape Town is on the verge of running out of water this year, while 2017 was globally the warmest non-El Niño year on record. As Carbon Dioxide emissions continue to hit new records and further climate change looks inevitable, how will the impact on the environment and our natural resources affect agriculture in the next 12 years?
By 2030, nearly half of the world’s population (3.9 billion) is expected to experience severe water scarcity, according to the OECD. With less access to water, agricultural productivity will be severely limited in some areas. Water will be much more carefully managed through storage and irrigation. Balanced fertilization will be key to ensure resilient crops, while fertigation will ensure efficient nutrient and water management and productivity in dry areas.
Warmer temperatures and changing rainfall patterns could reduce global food production by around 10% by 2030, according to some estimates. In Brazil, rice and wheat yields have been predicted to decline by 14%, according to CCAFS, while a 2008 study found that southern Africa could lose more than 30% of its maize crop. In colder areas, however, climate change should see crop yield increases up to 2030, though they will also start to decline afterwards. Ensuring complete plant nutrition through fertilizers will be crucial for growing enough food and achieving the best yields to make the most of good years.
Unstable production patterns caused by climate change combined with increased demand from the growing global population could see food prices double between 2010 and 2030, with the challenges to production presented by increasing climate change accounting for up to half of those increases, according to Oxfam. Rising prices will particularly impact the world’s poorest who spend more than 50% of their income of food. By increasing yields and keeping soil productive, fertilizers will be important for keeping prices down.
Climate change will have a disproportionally high impact on farmers and consumers in the developing world. By 2030 its impacts on small-scale farmers’ incomes could cause an extra 122 million people to be living in extreme poverty worldwide, according to the UN. The negative effects of climate change, which are already reducing Africa’s GDP by 1.4% a year, will increase food insecurity in many developing countries. Fertilizers will be crucial for helping smallholder farmers to survive on their land.
Many farmers will be forced to adapt the crops they grow due to extreme weather events and the changing climate. Depending on their location, farmers will need to change to new varieties or types of crops that are more tolerant to heat, drought or salinity. With energy demand predicted to increase by 30% by 2035, according to BP, more crops may also be grown for biofuels. Innovative fertilizer products and best management practices will improve nutrient efficiency and reduce losses, helping to ensure that crops successfully adapt to and thrive in new environments while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This Article first appeared on the IFA BLOG