Managing Agriculture to Support the World’s Ecosystems and 8 Billion People

The world’s food security is a matter of concern, as more than 8 billion people currently need food to survive. The problem is climate change, which is currently causing various impacts. Natural resources, erosion, disasters, and pollution are not infrequently challenging the world’s agricultural sector. 

In addition, researchers at the Demographic Institute of the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Indonesia, Lukas Nainggolan said that there is less and less interest among young people to work in agriculture. This is due to the low welfare of farmers, the vulnerability of the agricultural world that depends on natural work systems, and social support for farmers’ work. 

Meanwhile, as an answer to the food problem, rice fields continue to be opened by converting forest land. Although it answers food supply, the change in functional change affects the change of ecological systems and ecosystems in the forest.  Eventually, the natural crisis is unstoppable, so humans face the impact of various disasters. It seems that we need a new strategy to meet our food needs. A paper published in PNAS Nexus published in March 2023 provides an agricultural design involving technology. The study was led by Siragand (USC), a professor of computer science at the University of Southern California.

Raghavan calls it “computational agroecology” as a new research field that brings together technology and agricultural expertise. Such research can develop an understanding of diverse agricultural fields based on natural ecosystems. This understanding comes from Raghavan’s habit of growing 150 different edible plants in his yard. He is also interested in computing that can work on sustainable agriculture. 

Read also: Climate Change Brings the Impact of Heat Waves Hitting the Seabed

Through this computational agroecology, Raghavan explains that farmers will be assisted in crop selection. In addition, it allows farmers to choose planting, and irrigation, and explore various potential designs. It can thus optimize greener food production. This also includes being free of pesticides derived from fossil fuels. “A whole new way of thinking about agriculture,” he says.

Raghavan and his team proposed a concept called “state space”. This space would represent all possible configurations of agricultural systems. In this concept, the agricultural space variables, such as crop or soil type, weather conditions, irrigation, fertilization, or pest control systems. In this way, it allows farmers and agricultural researchers to explore available avenues and strategies. 

The system involves analytics and machine learning in variables. Therefore, farmers and researchers can see the various enablers of success in the fields. “Once we can understand agriculture in this way, we can then reframe many research questions and agricultural planning questions as a search through the space of all possible farming states that might end up with certain states being more desirable than others,” said Raghavan.

Source: national geographic

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