About 85 percent of the world's agricultural land contains
areas degraded by erosion, salinization, compaction, nutrient depletion,
biological degradation, or pollution over the last 50 years. About
34 percent of all agricultural land contains areas only lightly degraded;
43 percent contains moderately degraded areas; and 9 percent contains
strongly or extremely degraded areas. The extent of agricultural soil
degradation raises questions about the long-term capacity of agricultural
ecosystems (or agroecosystems) to produce food.
- Agroecosystems cover more than a quarter of the global land
area, but almost three-quarters of the land has poor soil fertility
and about half has steep terrain.
- While the global expansion of agricultural area has been modest
in recent decades, intensification has been rapid, as irrigated
area increased and fallow time decreased to produce more output
- Agriculture faces an enormous challenge to meet the food needs
of an additional 1.7 billion people over the next 20 years.
Source: World Resources 2000-2001
In Land Of Plenty, Land Of Want, investigate the fundamental problem facing today's farmers: how to feed the world's growing population without endangering our environment. Read the full description of this program or watch a video clip.
In Seas Of Grass, discover
the world's grasslands, natural vegetation of nearly 40 percent of
Earth's land surface, some of which are in grave danger. Read the full description of this program
or watch a video clip.
In Future Conditional, learn how the environment, which sustains human life, is also a profound source of ill health for many of the world’s people. Read the full description of this program.
Read Stories of Hope from the Journey to Planet Earth series focusing on agricultural ecosystems: