By Dr. L. Tim Wallace (auth.)
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Additional resources for Agriculture’s Futures: America’s Food System
Unused land is often unused for very good reasons. There are times 33 when we have excess food production capacity in the form of excess cropland, but this has tended to be needed on a cyclical basis from time to time. Its cyclical need in food production limits its commitment for the time necessary to produce fuel and recover the cost of a capital-intensive processing plant. If we had adequate economic incentives, we could probably convert 30-50 million acres from nonfood and fiber to biomass production.
From investing capital, with the result that some farm operators have serious cash flow problems with so much equipment to finance. Many new technologies have been initiated in food procurement, transportation, processing, quality-preservation industries (including preserving and nutrient fortification), packaging, storage, materials handling, inventory management, and merchandising. As in production agriculture, most of these technologies have been capitaland energy-intensive. In contrast to production agriculture, however, most had their origin in the private rather than the public sector.
Potential productivity gains for major crops show much promise in the near future. S. yields have gained over 10% in the past decade, more than double the increase in crop average. Yet gains have been even more impressive in other countries. South American farm production rose 31 % from 1974 to 1984; high-yielding varieties have tripled food bean yields. 5 tons; a new sunflower variety is raising Argentine yields by 25%. Often crop yield increases can be achieved without major technological breakthroughs simply by switching to higher-yielding varieties and adopting improved management practices.