It's one of the most critical questions of our time – how are we going to feed the growing global population that is expected to reach nine billion people by the year 2050? Agricultural productivity gains are vital to enable the global population to have access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food. Even though this might seem like a daunting task, most people are increasingly conscious of our collective responsibility to address the issue. And, history tells us that solving huge challenges is often achieved by a lot of small, individual contributions.
Feeding the world using soybean biostacked sustainable technologies
In 2008, Becker Underwood, a technology-intensive developer of biologicals and specialty products for the ag sector, set out on a mission to address sustainability throughout all of its business practices by implementing its sustainability strategy, called NET positive. The goal of this initiative was for Becker Underwood – through its processes, products and policies – to achieve an overall positive impact on the global environment and society.
On a global basis, in an effort to implement efficient and effective practices, Becker Underwood partnered with Iowa State University and the Gates Foundation to help small farmers in Africa, by providing these rural areas with sustainable biological products that increase yield through the use of inoculation. The overall goal of the program is to bring sustainable and high quality products to farmers by stabilizing production of sustainable food. In doing this, Becker Underwood is working to conquer one of the world's biggest challenges – finding a way to feed a growing population.
Helping small farmers in Africa: The soil conditions in many of these countries are one of many hurdles these farmers face. Low amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil, in addition to extremely dry conditions, are challenges that must be overcome in order for optimal crop growth. The introduction of inoculates to the land, while not a common practice, allows for more available nitrogen in the soil.
Of the air we breathe, 79% of it is made of nitrogen--and inoculated legumes are able to convert and use this nitrogen. The nitrogen provided by the inoculated legumes grown in rotation with other crops helps boost yield and lower fertilizer costs of crops such as corn or small grains, all in an environmentally safe manner. In using this process, Becker Underwood aims to double bean production in these areas.
Soybean inoculation in the United States: With the obvious impact and benefits the introduction of inoculants in Africa provides, the question becomes, what if all U.S. soybean farmers started inoculating? Based on Becker Underwood's field trial data, their flagship product, Vault HP (soybean biostacked sustainable technology), increases yields on average by 2 bushels/acre.
Based on these results, if Vault HP was used on 100 percent of the planted acres, U.S. farmers would generate an additional 13.6 trillion calories per year. If the average individual needs 2,000 calories a day, then the additional calories generated by the use of Vault HP in the U.S. would equate to enough calories to feed an additional 18.7 million people for a whole year.
Of course, this is a very simplistic analysis, and the assumptions may be unrealistic, but it is important to take a look at the challenge of feeding our growing population on a global basis and ask ourselves, what we, as individuals, can do to solve this challenge? It is a sobering thought that by the time you go to bed tonight, there will be 250,000 more people on the planet than when you got out of bed this morning.Scan the QR Code with any free QR Reader on your smartphone to watch a video that provides a more in-depth analysis on how soybean biostacked technologies can help feed the world or visit www.beckerunderwood.com/VaultHP.