2020 Mega Trends: Conservation Agriculture
by Clinton Griffiths, AgWeb
Jan 06, 2020
Following a decade with the introduction of societal shifters like the smart phone and rapid expansion of social media, 2020 could be the starting block for the fastest technological race in agricultural history. Combining big data with cutting edge science, artificial intelligence and cloud connected technology has the potential revolutionize farming in ways only dreamed up in movies. We asked three farm futurists for their predictions for the next decade.
We broke the mega trends down to five key categories. Here are the mega trends for conservation agriculture:
According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, in just five years cover crop plantings surged by 50% to 15.4 million acres in the U.S. In eight states, many in the heart of the corn belt, cover crop plantings grew by more than 100% from 2012 to 2017. That trend, maybe as high as 40 million acres, is forecast to continue as soil health, nutrient management and carbon sequestration efforts continue to incentivize the practice.
“Agriculture is the only industry that can prove it can sequester more carbon than what Mother Nature's already sequestering,” says Lowell Catlett, futurist, economist and former dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University.
Cover crops and keeping a crop always growing on the nation’s farmland is one way to pull carbon (CO2) from the atmosphere. In the next decade, more private companies or even government incentive programs are expected to arrive, ready to pay farmers for keeping that carbon locked in the soil.
“We already have people that are looking at buying carbon credits and more will emerge and create even bigger markets,” says Catlett.
Estimates already put the global CO2 market at more than $160 billion dollars as more businesses and countries look to offset emissions with tangible sequestration methods.
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