The number of people who live in cities has almost doubled from less than 22 % in 1960 to more than 40 %. The UN estimates that the world’s population of 7 billion will increase to 15 billion by 2100 with a significant proportion living in the coastline cities. That figure could be as high as 70 % for developing countries in the next 40 years.
70% of the world’s fresh water is used to irrigate crops and increased frequency of droughts will have a serious impact on food security. Better integrated farming systems are needed to increase the productivity of this precious resource.
With more people living near coastal regions urban agriculture should logically utilise the directly surrounding sea area in order to shorten transport routes, lower freshwater consumption, and allow easier traceability.
Food and energy prices, in general, will continue to be closely linked since most fertilizers are petroleum based. Additionally, the increasing cost of fish meal will pressure the food price index. Integrated aquaculture farming systems lead to better utilisation of nutrients and waste and therefore higher productivity.
The world’s petroleum reserves are derived from fossilised algae and plants. 85% of all that stored energy which is released during the combustion of fossilized plant matter comes from photosynthesis.
The problem with modern agriculture combined with the modern energy-intensive lifestyle is that we are burning 300 million years of stored photosynthetic energy in 200 years. Cheap fuel and fertilisers are directly linked to the growth of global food production supporting the earth’s population explosion. With unparalleled industrial activity comes the commensurate pressure on the environment from the waste products of modernisation, especially CO2 with its link to global warming and climate change.
We aim for a holistic approach and higher productivity by using all resources available to us and controlling their side effects. Food production needs to consume less of the rapidly shrinking reserves of arable land, clean water, fossil fuels and phosphate fertilisers. Intelligent recycling re-introduces resources into natural cycles instead of wasting them. Optimizing all nutrient and energy inputs is not only sustainable but also socially responsible.