In the developed world, industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture has become the dominant system of modern farming, although there is growing support for sustainable agriculture. Modern agronomy, plant breeding, agrochemicals such as pesticides (which has increased since 1950 to 2.5 million tons annually worldwide), fertilizers, and technological improvements have sharply increased yields from cultivation, but at the same time have caused widespread ecological damages and negative human health effects.
Agriculture represents 70% of freshwater use worldwide: water management is needed in most regions of the world where rainfall is insufficient or variable. Essentially agriculture draws water from aquifers and underground water sources at an unsustainable rate.
Increasing pressure is being placed on water resources by industry and urban areas, meaning that water scarcity is increasing and agriculture is facing the challenge of producing more food for the world’s growing population with reduced water resources.
Even more, climate change has the potential to affect agriculture through changes in temperature, rainfall (timing and quantity), CO2, solar radiation and the interaction of these elements. Agriculture is among sectors most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change; water supply for example, will be critical to sustain agricultural production and provide the increase in food output required to sustain the world’s growing population.