A new report published in Nature Sustainability this week examines the potential impacts on food production of Zero Budget Natural Farming, a farming system that is sweeping India.
Zero Budget Natural Farming differs from traditional organic farming in that it does not attempt to provide the nutrients needed for crop growth using animal manures, but instead aims to change the functioning of the soil–crop system so that nutrients are made available to crops without the need for external inputs.
With very few direct scientific measurements available in systems using Zero Budget Natural Farming, this study, led by Professor Jo Smith from the University of Aberdeen and supported by funding from UK research councils, Scottish Government, the European Union and the Wellcome Trust, is the first to provide a detailed assessment of the impacts of the farming system on the nitrogen available and soil conditions for crop growth.
Under business-as-usual, by 2050, 60% of India’s population, equivalent to more than 10% of the people on Earth, are predicted to experience severe deficiencies in calories, digestible protein and fat. To meet increased demands for food on a shrinking area of agricultural land, efficiency of crop production must increase, but climate change, soil degradation and depopulation present further challenges to increasing the efficiency of Indian agriculture.
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