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Food Sector

Securing adequate food production to feed the world’s growing population requires the efficient use of all resources, including land, soil nutrients, fertilizers, energy and water.

Of all industries, the agricultural industry has the greatest impact on land, energy and water resources. Agriculture uses almost half of the earth’s land mass. With the remaining land being unsuitable for food production, higher production yields are needed to feed growing populations. Also, agriculture claims approximately 70% of the earth’s available freshwater (“Water”, Agriculture at a Crossroads, Foundation on Future Farming, 2017), and the food supply chain represents 30% of total energy consumption. (“Water, Food and Energy”, UN-Water, United Nations).

Food sector topics include those that address food supply practices that help sustain the soil, water and energy resources needed for food production, such as the:

Practices that address resource efficiencies or competing demands on the food-energy and water-food resources are included in this section. Land-use decisions that affect both food production and the water supply can be found under integrated approaches.

Energy Use for Food

This section describes how water and energy are inputs to land/food. Learn more here on how land/food is an input for water, and here how land/food is an input for the energy sector.

The food production supply chain requires large amounts of direct and indirect forms of energy to feed the growing population. Because of the various drivers in the agricultural and the energy industries, interdependencies between the two industries are vast and complex. Decisions made in one industry, greatly impact the other. With irrigation offering higher crop yields, energy used for pumping water increases. Using fertilizers and pesticides for increased production and land for renewable energy production affects energy supply and demand and the food supply, as prime agricultural land is taken out of food production or made unsuitable for future food production. The increasing dependence on energy for food production—or land for energy production—places food production at risk of meeting food demands due to the energy industry’s volatilities.

Energy demands of food production includes topics such as:

Water for Food

Agricultural water management challenges increase to support the growing global population and the dietary changes that occur with affluence. “Recent forecasts warn of impending global problems unless appropriate action is taken to improve water management and increase water use efficiency” (“Satisfying Future Water Demands for Agriculture”, Agricultural Water Management, 2010). Because many countries of the world depend on rain-fed agriculture, water management challenges are exacerbated by increased droughts and floods due to climate change.

Important topics that address the water requirements for food production include:

  • Improved water conservation practices
  • Water requirements of crops
  • Irrigation and non-irrigation techniques
  • Water requirements of livestock husbandry
  • Impact of fertilizers and pesticides on water supply for agriculture
  • Water reuse for agriculture
  • Virtual water
  • Water-efficient practices such as composting
  • The politics and economics of agriculture and water management.

In addition to the topics mentioned above, this section includes policies and best practices of farming as they relate to conserving land, water and energy, including agricultural impacts on soil, agricultural losses, energy versus food policies and market forces, land-use decisions impacts on food production, major industries consuming agricultural lands, and urbanization impacts on the agricultural industry.

Resources CESC

Sectors-cesc
Resources countries

Publication

A World at Risk: Aggregating Development Trends to Forecast Global Habitat Conversion

The authors of this article project and aggregate global spatial patterns of expected urban and agricultural expansion, as well as…

Sources:

PLoS ONE

Date:

7 October 2015

Publication

Agrivoltaic Systems to Optimise Land Use for Electric Energy Production

In this work, a patented “agrivoltaic” solar tracking system named Agrovoltaico is examined in combination with a maize crop in…

Sources:

Applied Energy

Date:

15 June 2018

Publication

Agrivoltaic Potential on Grape Farms in India

To investigate and quantify PV generation potential, without significantly harming agriculture output, the authors of this study explore the viability…

Sources:

Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments

Date:

1 October 2017

Publication

Aquavoltaics: Synergies for Dual Use of Water Area for Solar Photovoltaic Electricity Generation and Aquaculture

This paper reviews the fields of floatovoltaic technology (i.e., water-deployed solar photovoltaic systems) and aquaculture (i.e., farming of aquatic organisms)…

Sources:

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

Date:

1 December 2017

Publication

Assessing the Feasibility of Using Produced Water for Irrigation in Colorado

This research explores which counties in Colorado may be best suited to reusing produced water for agriculture based on a…

Sources:

Science of the Total Environment

Date:

1 November 2018

Publication

Concrete Thermal Energy Storage for Linear Fresnel Collectors: Exploiting the South Mediterranean’s Solar Potential for Agri-food Processes

This case study examines the possibility of generating, by a solar industrial process heating plant, the thermal energy required annually…

Sources:

Energy Conversion and Management

Date:

15 June 2018

Publication

Coupling Aquaculture with Forest Plantations for Food, Energy, and Water Resiliency

Coupling freshwater aquaculture and forest bioenergy markets can improve food, energy, and water resiliency by enhancing ecosystem services through fertilization,…

Sources:

Science of the Total Environment

Date:

15 November 2016

Publication

Energy use in Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS): A Review

In aiming to achieve economic and environmentally sustainable production, a compromise has to be found between water use, waste discharge,…

Sources:

Aquacultural Engineering (Volume 81)

Date:

1 May 2018

Publication

Evaluation of CRP on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS)

The CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on aquatic agricultural systems was designed to bring together the CGIAR’s strengths in agricultural research…

Sources:

CGIAR

Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA) of CGIAR

Date:

27 March 2018

Publication

Expenditure of Low-Income Households on Energy : Evidence from Africa and Asia

Report abstract: “Patterns of household energy use and expenditure have been the subject of a large number of studies. Household…

Sources:

World Bank Group

Date:

1 June 2010

Publication

Food Processing Industry Energy and Water Consumption in the Pacific Northwest

This aims to quantify key sources of energy and water consumption in the food processing industry. It focuses on food-related…

Sources:

Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies

Date:

1 June 2018

Publication

Food Consumption and Waste in Spanish Households: Water Implications Within and Beyond National Borders

This paper focuses on assessing the water-related implications of food consumption and waste among Spanish consumers to discern possible policy…

Sources:

Ecological Indicators

Date:

1 June 2018

Tools and Websites

Grace Communications Foundation: Nexus Food, Water and Energy

This website examines the “nexus” of where food, water and energy systems intersect. It takes water (lots of it) to…

Sources:

Grace Communications Foundation

Publication

Globalization and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Using the Global Production Networks Approach to Analyze Society-Environment Relations

Economic globalization (e.g. through transnational trade and foreign direct investment) results in a global conjunction of actors, interests and impacts,…

Sources:

Environmental Science and Policy

Date:

15 December 2017

Publication

Identifying Critical Supply Chains and Final Products: An Input-output Approach to Exploring the Energy-Water-Food Nexus

The authors of this paper take the United Kingdom as a case study and calculate energy, water and food consumption-based…

Sources:

Applied Energy

Date:

15 January 2018

Publication

Linking the Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Sustainable Development Indicators for the Mediterranean Region

Water use and agricultural practices in the Mediterranean area are unsustainable, and they are being worsened by the increased frequency…

Sources:

Ecological Indicators

Date:

27 April 2018

Publication

Low-carbon Competitiveness in Kenya

Article abstract: “The aim of Kenya’s Vision 2030 initiative is to create a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a…

Sources:

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

Date:

30 September 2013