The global population is increasing, meanwhile political instability and ongoing climate change is negatively affecting many of the major agricultural areas. There is a need to double global food production by 2050. The problem is that farmers find themselves at the top of the cost chain but at the bottom of the value chain.
In Norway we have a target to increase food production by 20 per cent by 2030. However, there is currently major economic pressure and high prices in the world market. This is a challenge, as all cost changes we are seeing in society terminate with farmers.
The prices of factor inputs such as mineral fertiliser, plastic, diesel and power are going up, while the income from production is staying the same. This is not sustainable for Norwegian food production. When the price of factor inputs is higher than the value of yields, the factor inputs must be better utilised to achieve higher yields.
A yield gap is the difference between the yield potential and the yield that is actually harvested. An achievable yield potential is generally approx. 80 per cent of the theoretical yield potential.
Research shows that it is possible to increase Norwegian yields on existing land by up to 30 per cent. This means that our farming is currently not managing to utilise the factor inputs as well as we should. To achieve increased yields, we can expand the farming land or increase the yields on existing land. The challenge will be to make better use of fertiliser, diesel and pesticides.
Optimal fertilising is about adapting the nutritional supply to the needs of the crops. Optimally, you should then perform variable fertilising in shifts. Ideally this means that each individual crop receives the exact amount of fertiliser that it needs.
Technological tools that will help to improve the use of farming factor inputs for more sustainable precision farming are constantly being developed.