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Sustaining farms, food supply
Video transcript:

Today we're at the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, which is part of our Sustainability Institute. It's a 300-acre facility owned by the University of California and the heart of it is a 100-acre sentry project looking at long-term agricultural sustainability.

This is a unique facility on the planet. It specializes and focuses on irrigated agriculture for Mediterranean climates, like we have here in California. This is set up to take the really long view on issues like irrigation, fertilizer efficiency, nutrition of plants, nutrition of people, soil health and to look at things that really nobody else in the University of California system or globally can address.

The human population of the planet is going to increase from about 7 billion people to peak at about 9 billion people in approximately 2050. That's going to be a historic turning point for our species. Now, there's a great success story with agricultural and food production of the last forty or fifty years. Roughly doubling food supply and what that took, though, was doubling of nitrogen, tripling of phosphorous, a lot of advanced research.

Now, are we going to be to do this next doubling to feed the next 2 billion with business as usual? Or are we going to have to discover new ways of combining sustainability with intensification to increase productivity?

It was really science and technology of the sort that University of California has unparalleled capacity for, which drove that initial success story. But, what we're trying to do here at the Russell Ranch and other aspects of our work on sustainable food systems is to reinvent agriculture and California has always had this sort of spirit of innovation.

If you look back over the last one hundred fifty years in California agriculture, California agriculture has basically reinvented itself every generation. So, a lot of what we're about here is saying, well, what's going to be the scientific foundation for the next generation of California agriculture.

 

Learn more about the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute