Worlds Overpopulation Monoculture Farming & Synthetic Fertilizers Paper

classmates are required to write a paragraph response(additional week for spring break). First, before reading the debate, note if you are for or against the statement (before reading the debate, do you agree more with the pro or con position?). Then note if your position changed or remained the same after you read the debate (after reading the debate, do you agree more with the pro or con position?) Give any insights on the debate or debate topic.

In order to feed the world, small farming practices are not practical.

(Con; In order to feed the world, small farming practices ARE practical)

In the last 50 years, the world population has risen from 2.53 billion to a staggering 6.13 billion (Roser, Ortiz-Ospina). This immense surge in the populace means that more food must be produced in the same amount of farmland. In the early 60’s, each person required 0.45 hectares of cultivated farmland to be fed, while in 2010, that number has gone down to 0.22 hectares. Therefore, even though the population has more than doubled in the past 50 years, the current amount of cultivated land has only increased from 1.4 billion hectares to 1.5 billion hectares according to the Food and Agriculture Orginization of the United Nations.

While some may argue that large industrial scale farming practices are the reason why our 21st century farming techniques have been so efficient, this is a myth propagated by industrial farming advocates themselves. Most large scale farms are monoculture (typically only producing soy or corn, as those are the most in demand), and these monoculture farms pollute the soil by taking away vital nutrients, and require synthetic fertilizers to be dumped into the soil (Pollan 45). Smaller farms use a polyculture method of farming, after a harvest of one particular crop, a different one is planted for the next harvest so that the soil can retain its nutrients, and thus its fertility. Different crops require different nutrients from the soil, and so by having a variety of crops being planted prevents certain nutrients present in the soil from being depleted. In addition to being harmful to the soil, monoculture farming is also detrimental to the plants themselves. In a study of 24 plots of grassland species, it was shown that diseases were higher in plots with less plant diversity than in plots with more plant diversity (Lin 185-196). When a plant is infected with a disease, it is much easier for it to pass off said disease to a plant of the same species. Crops of different species are not as likely to infect each other with diseases, much in the same way that you are not likely to transmit the flu to a cat or dog. Because polyculture farms do not require synthetic fertilizers and are less likely to have crop losses due to disease, said small polyculture farms are more efficient, both in use of resources and in crop production.

Small farms are run by local farmers, who buy all their supplies from local sources, which in turn boosts the local economy. On the other hand, large scale industrial farms need more supplies than the local area can provide and therefore turn to importing goods from other larger scale industries. By sourcing their supplies out of the local area, industrial scale farms do nothing but take land away from the local population.

In addition to being less efficient and not contributing to the local economy, industrial style farming is markedly worse for the environment than small scale farming. The synthetic fertilizers mentioned before have detrimental effects to the soil (not affecting plants) that can lead to chemicals polluting local water sources. In addition to polluting water sources, large scale farms also contribute the most to deforestation, with 87% of deforestation due to farming in general, and 70% of that as a result of factory/industrial farming alone (Lin 185-196).