Precision Agriculture & National Security

National security is commonly thought of as having a well-equipped, well-trained and well-supplied standing army that is ready to be deployed when a nation is threatened by some foreign entity. Few people connect national security to food security and indirectly to precision agriculture. Before discussing how precision agriculture relates to national security, it may be instructive to discuss the role agriculture plays in national security.

In addition to needing air to breathe and clothing and shelter for protection from the elements, every human requires a reliable supply of food and water. It is the role of governments to ensure that its citizens have access to safe and affordable food and water. Not to do so could result in political and social instability.

Historically, in many parts of the world, this instability has manifested itself as food and water riots. While the statistics vary among publications, it is estimated that the number of nations experiencing a food or water riot may be as high as 60 over the past decade. The political or social circumstances that actually trigger a food or water riot can be quite complex. However, many are due to the lack of resource self-sufficiency in a country, unanticipated refugees from neighboring countries, and near-sighted, economic policies.

Most studies on society and food make the distinction between food “availability” and “accessibility.” Availability is the actual supply of food harvested around the world. Accessibility is the ability of a populace to purchase food.

Nearly everyone agrees that food is readily available but not easily accessible. This disparity between food availability and accessibility is easy to comprehend when the earnings of one-third of the world’s population are less than $2 a day. In developing nations, a full-time worker may spend most of his or her earnings on food. Even a slight increase in the price of food could spell disaster for a person living on a subsistence salary.

The Major Cause

A recent article cited in the MIT published Technology Review identifies the price of food as the single most important factor for predicting food riots. Researchers in the New England Complex Systems Institute studied the time dependence of a food price index and the occurrence of riots worldwide. They identified a specific threshold for the index that if passed would indicate an increasing potential for riots. The threshold was exceeded in 2008 at the time of African riots and again in 2011 at the time of the Middle East riots.

The researchers are predicting that price index threshold will be exceeded again in the summer of 2013 due to price speculation by traders in deregulated commodities markets and the subsidized conversion of corn to ethanol for energy markets. Of course, excessive rain, droughts or other extreme weather events would exacerbate an already shaky social situation.

As one begins to appreciate the relation between the food availability and accessibility and social unrest, it is not a stretch to see the link to national security. As more and more people are unable to purchase food in a given country, their instinct to survive will result in desperate measures. These measures could be in the form of stealing, cheating, corruption, riots, political upheaval and cross-border human migrations. The social disruption by a growing minority will affect all classes of a society. As social disruption grows, a nation as a whole is less secure and more vulnerable to extreme ideologues within its borders and foreign forces outside.

The obvious question is: “How does one ensure a safe, reliable supply of food and water so as not to threaten national security?” There are several answers to this question.

One answer is for a nation to increase its own food supplies by expanding production within its borders or purchasing arable land in another country. This expansion of production assumes that there is adequate water. A second answer is to export raw resources or manufactured goods in return for monies to purchase food on the world market. A third answer is to increase productivity on existing land by being more efficient and sustainable. It is this last answer that incorporates precision agriculture.

Improving Production

The steady trend in increased yields worldwide indicates that there is room for improved production practices. Even in the U.S. with relatively good management, the choice of seed with resistant traits, advanced mechanization that provides for better crop stands, conservation practices the stabilize soils and improve their water storage, new irrigation techniques and the application of precision agriculture programs can all contribute to increased yields. Precision agriculture programs with their support of variable-rate applications of seed, fertilizers and crop protectants minimize materials and energy while maximizing production and profit.

The success stories in this issue are the reminders that precision agriculture is part of the solution for food security and national security both here in the U.S. and abroad. With one-third of the world’s population expected to be at or below the poverty level by mid-century, we in the precision agriculture community have both a moral and professional obligation to do the best we can to introduce production practices that increase the supply and quality of food worldwide.

Leave a Reply

Professionals Stories
linkedin-groups
Professionals5 Compelling Reasons To Join The PrecisionAg Professional LinkedIn Group
March 1, 2017
Many ag professionals are actively using sites such as Twitter and Facebook to promote their businesses. But perhaps no other Read More
UNL Researchers
ProfessionalsPrecision Agriculture Makes Farming More Sustainable, Profitable
February 23, 2017
Farmers have numerous sources of technology and data available to use in their operations, but many producers struggle with what Read More
DronesLand O’Lakes Drone Challenge Crowdsourcing Competition Underway
February 17, 2017
Land O’Lakes, Inc. is calling on innovators from the tech industry to enter the Land O’Lakes Prize: Drone Challenge, a Read More
ProfessionalsDeere Details New Connect Mobile App, C850 Air Cart
February 15, 2017
To help growers monitor, adjust and learn from the performance of their planter or sprayer while it moves through the Read More
Trending Articles
Connected Farm Scout Trimble Agriculture - featured image
Decision Support Software17 Field Scouting Apps For Precision Agriculture
February 6, 2017
There are dozens of easy-to-use mobile apps that are ideal for every day field scouting tasks. From record keeping and Read More
John Deere Dealership
Business ManagementAg Retailer, Equipment Dealer Improve Service By Working Together
January 27, 2017
Some believe that in many aspects of life, timing is everything. Among those believers, please count Randy Bartholomew, Integrated Solutions Read More
Innovation SeriesPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 25, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Terry Griffin
Business ManagementUsing High Tech To Make Farm Decisions
January 17, 2017
Raj Khosla, professor of precision agriculture at Colorado State University, challenged farmers to think about how far the technology of Read More
PrecisionAg.com featured image
ProfessionalsWelcome to the Newly Enhanced PrecisionAg.com
December 29, 2016
Talk a quick look around our website and we hope you’ll notice it’s significantly different as we head into 2017 Read More
Ryan Raguse and Matthew Grassi
ProfessionalsIndustry Executives Talk New PrecisionAg Professional Brand
December 19, 2016
EFC Systems President and CEO Ernie Chappell Myriad Mobile Cofounder and Chairman Ryan Raguse Read More
Latest News
linkedin-groups
Professionals5 Compelling Reasons To Join The PrecisionAg Profession…
March 1, 2017
Many ag professionals are actively using sites such as Twitter and Facebook to promote their businesses. But perhaps no other Read More
Trimble Connected Farm Dashboard ipad and desktop
Decision Support SoftwareWhat’s The Deal With Dashboards? — A Seinfeldian Look A…
March 1, 2017
First off, if you read that title in the voice of Jerry Seinfeld, I have your attention, and you also Read More
GuidanceTopcon Debuts SI-21 Lightbar for X-Family of Displays
February 28, 2017
Topcon Agriculture announces the release of the SI-21 Lightbar, designed as a cost-effective, user-friendly product to complement manual guidance, providing Read More
Imagery/SensingAgrible Launches Pocket Drone Control App for Crop Copt…
February 28, 2017
Agrible has a new tool to help the farming community by giving users the power of aerial insights. Pocket Drone Read More
GuidanceTopcon Launching New X35 In-Cab Display Console
February 27, 2017
Topcon Agriculture introduces the new X35 — the next generation in the X-Family of touchscreen displays with advanced functionality. Designed Read More
Brazilian Agriculture
Ag Tech GlobalInside The Life Of A Precision Ag Consultant In Brazil
February 27, 2017
Editor’s note: Maurício Nicocelli Netto is a Precision Ag Consultant in Brazil. While he has witnessed a lot of growth in Read More
Professor Simon Blackmore
Ag Tech GlobalUK Professor: Name Change Needed For ‘Precision A…
February 24, 2017
‘Accurate farming’ would be more apt than ‘precision agriculture’ to describe this agricultural practice, says professor Simon Blackmore of Harper Read More
EventsInnovation Series 2017 Quick Thoughts: Gaining Ground
February 23, 2017
If you’ve been following past coverage of our PrecisionAg® Media Innovation Series events, this column is going to sound a Read More
UNL Researchers
ProfessionalsPrecision Agriculture Makes Farming More Sustainable, P…
February 23, 2017
Farmers have numerous sources of technology and data available to use in their operations, but many producers struggle with what Read More
Ag Tech GlobalSciFi in Ag: What do North Dakota, Peru, and Mars Have …
February 23, 2017
In early 2016, I was lucky enough to hike the Salkantay Mountain range in Peru. It’s about a 50 mile Read More
Sentera drone
DronesPrecision Ag Professionals Will Find Advice, Applicatio…
February 22, 2017
The upcoming ASCEND Conference & Expo will deliver practical information about using drones to improve processes in precision agriculture. ASCEND Read More
Case IH - AFS AccuStar and UAV Offering - Magnum MX210 AccuStar Receiver
DronesCase IH Adds New GPS Solution, UAV Package To AFS Offer…
February 21, 2017
Driven by the growing demand for efficient data management, the latest Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) solutions from Case IH help Read More
Mobile Phone in field
Systems ManagementBayer Enters Farm Recommendations Arena With Yara Colla…
February 20, 2017
Crop protection and ag biotech giant Bayer and fertilizer producer Yara International ASA have entered into a software collaboration and Read More
Hort TechGrowingProduce.com: Smart Vineyards Set to Revolutioniz…
February 17, 2017
Phil Asmundson is by no means a veteran viticulturist, but a half-dozen years ago, after watching his wife and business Read More
Soil testing
Data ManagementOpinion: Soil Testing Needs Sensors To Get More Accurat…
February 17, 2017
We are entering a very exciting time in agriculture. With so many great software platforms and data collection tools we Read More
Australian Harvest
Decision Support SoftwareGarden City Co-op Added as MZB Regional Mapping Center;…
February 17, 2017
Garden City Co-op (GCC), through a retailer agreement, has been using MZB Technologies as their precision ag platform for a Read More
DronesLand O’Lakes Drone Challenge Crowdsourcing Compet…
February 17, 2017
Land O’Lakes, Inc. is calling on innovators from the tech industry to enter the Land O’Lakes Prize: Drone Challenge, a Read More
DronesDrone Startup Hits VC Jackpot: Skyward Acquired by Veri…
February 16, 2017
Building on its strategy to drive innovation and adoption for IoT services in high-growth markets, Verizon today announced that it Read More