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  • Transcriber: TED Translators Admin Reviewer: Mirjana Čutura

  • About 10,000 years ago, humans began to farm.

  • This agricultural revolution was a turning point in our history

  • that enabled people to settle, build and create.

  • In short, agriculture enabled the existence of civilization.

  • Today, approximately 40 percent of our planet is farmland.

  • Spread all over the world,

  • these agricultural lands are the pieces to a global puzzle

  • we are all facing:

  • in the future, how can we feed every member of a growing population

  • a healthy diet?

  • Meeting this goal will require

  • nothing short of a second agricultural revolution.

  • The first agricultural revolution

  • was characterized by expansion and exploitation,

  • feeding people at the expense of forests, wildlife and water

  • and destabilizing the climate in the process.

  • That's not an option the next time around.

  • Agriculture depends on a stable climate

  • with predictable seasons and weather patterns.

  • This means we can't keep expanding our agricultural lands,

  • because doing so will undermine the environmental conditions

  • that make agriculture possible in the first place.

  • Instead, the next agricultural revolution

  • will have to increase the output of our existing farmland for the long term

  • while protecting biodiversity, conserving water

  • and reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • So what will the future farms look like?

  • This drone is part of a fleet that monitors the crops below.

  • The farm may look haphazard

  • but is a delicately engineered use of the land

  • that intertwines crops and livestock with wild habitats.

  • Conventional farming methods cleared large swathes of land

  • and planted them with a single crop,

  • eradicating wildlife

  • and emitting huge amounts of greenhouse gases in the process.

  • This approach aims to correct that damage.

  • Meanwhile, moving among the crops,

  • teams of field robots apply fertilizer in targeted doses.

  • Inside the soil,

  • hundreds of sensors gather data on nutrients and water levels.

  • This information reduces unnecessary water use

  • and tells farmers where they should apply more and less fertilizer

  • instead of causing pollution by showering it across the whole farm.

  • But the farms of the future won't be all sensors and robots.

  • These technologies are designed to help us produce food

  • in a way that works with the environment

  • rather than against it,

  • taking into account the nuances of local ecosystems.

  • Lower-cost agricultural practices can also serve those same goals

  • and are much more accessible to many farmers.

  • In fact, many such practices are already in use today

  • and stand to have an increasingly large impact

  • as more farmers adopt them.

  • In Costa Rica,

  • farmers have intertwined farmland with tropical habitat so successfully

  • that they have significantly contributed to doubling the country's forest cover.

  • This provides food and habitat for wildlife

  • as well as natural pollination and pest control

  • from the birds and insects these farms attract,

  • producing food while restoring the planet.

  • In the United States,

  • ranchers are raising cattle on grasslands composed of native species,

  • generating a valuable protein source

  • using production methods that store carbon and protect biodiversity.

  • In Bangladesh, Cambodia and Nepal,

  • new approaches to rice production

  • may dramatically decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the future.

  • Rice is a staple food for three billion people

  • and the main source of livelihood for millions of households.

  • More than 90 percent of rice is grown in flooded paddies,

  • which use a lot of water

  • and release 11 percent of annual methane emissions,

  • which accounts for one to two percent

  • of total annual greenhouse gas emissions globally.

  • By experimenting with new strains of rice,

  • irrigating less

  • and adopting less labor-intensive ways of planting seeds,

  • farmers in these countries

  • have already increased their incomes and crop yields

  • while cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.

  • In Zambia,

  • numerous organizations are investing in locally specific methods

  • to improve crop production, reduce forest loss

  • and improve livelihoods for local farmers.

  • These efforts are projected to increase crop yield

  • by almost a quarter over the next few decades.

  • If combined with methods to combat deforestation in the region,

  • they could move the country

  • toward a resilient, climate-focused agricultural sector.

  • And in India,

  • where up to 40 percent of post-harvest food is lost or wasted

  • due to poor infrastructure,

  • farmers have already started to implement solar-powered cold storage capsules

  • that help thousands of rural farmers preserve their produce

  • and become a viable part of the supply chain.

  • It will take all of these methods,

  • from the most high-tech to the lowest-cost,

  • to revolutionize farming.

  • High-tech interventions stand to amplify

  • climate- and conservation-oriented approaches to farming,

  • and large producers will need to invest in implementing these technologies.

  • Meanwhile, we'll have to expand access to the lower-cost methods

  • for smaller-scale farmers.

  • This vision of future farming will also require a global shift

  • toward more plant-based diets

  • and huge reductions in food loss and waste,

  • both of which will reduce pressure on the land

  • and allow farmers to do more with what they have available.

  • If we optimize food production, both on land and sea,

  • we can feed humanity

  • within the environmental limits of the earth,

  • but there's a very small margin of error,

  • and it will take unprecedented global cooperation

  • and coordination of the agricultural lands we have today.

Transcriber: TED Translators Admin Reviewer: Mirjana Čutura

Subtitles and keywords

B1 INT US agricultural greenhouse greenhouse gas farming crop farmland

Can we create the "perfect" farm? - Brent Loken

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