UK GCSE level age ~14-16, ~US grades 9-10 Biology revision notes re-edit 11/05/2023 [SEARCH]

 Food: 4. Methods of increasing food production and improving sustainability and the environment

Doc Brown's Biology exam study revision notes


There are various sections to work through, after 1 they can be read and studied in any order.

INDEX of biology notes on population growth, food security, sustainability and food production


4. Ways of tackling food production to avoid food insecurity

A lack of sustainability is a major factor for the world's food production

Can we increase food production rates without endangering the needs of future generations?

I realise the preceding section sounded all very negative, but there are ways to help the situation with good practice in land and sea management and protect the environment for the future.

We must be POSITIVE in our outlook and we are an intelligent animal that can solve these problems!

Methods of how to appropriately increase efficiency in food production

BUT there are still issues to be addressed!

We need sustainable methods of food production to provide enough to feed the world's growing population.

Sustainable food production means producing enough food to give everyone food security without consumption outstripping supply AND without damaging the environment and its ecosystems.

This includes using, as far as possible, renewable resources of food, materials and energy.

We need a variety of methods to increase food production and avoid food insecurity because situations differ around the world.


Plants are the producers at the start of any food chain.

Producers (mainly plants) take in the chemicals they need from their environment.

Molecular compounds like water, carbon dioxide and mineral ions e.g. nitrate for nitrogen, phosphate for phosphorus and small quantities of metal ions like magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium and zinc.

If plants don't get enough of theses nutrients their growth is inhibited giving lower crop yields.

There can be lack of nutrients in soil due the previous uptake of them by the previous crop or the soil is poor in nutrients in the first place.

Farmers can replace the missing nutrients used by the previous crop or enrich poor soils by applying artificial fertilisers - but this can adversely affect the environment.

Overuse of fertilisers and pesticides can lead to pollution problems.

see biodiversity notes.

By boosting soil nutrition, growth is increased and the subsequent yield increased.

Note: Yield can be defined as the quantity of food produced by a specified area of land (the growing time might be specified too).

Increased crop yields means increased food production, whether the yield is measured as a grain crop directly for food or the plant crop is fed to help raise herds of animals.

See also Photosynthesis, food chain importance explained

Parts 4(a) to 4(j) outline ways to help food production

BUT, there are often issues to take into account,

with advantages and disadvantages to take into consideration.

(a) GM crops can help, but it is only one approach to increasing food production:

(b) Organic fertilisers best, but poor soil improved with inorganic fertilisers, but overuse causes environmental problems.

(c) An assortment of agrichemical and pharmaceutical products to increase yields

(d) You can use biological methods to control pests.

(e) To avoid overfishing and keep fish stocks at sustainable levels, fish farms?

(f) Livestock management

(g) Mycoprotein - another application of biotechnology using fungi

(h) Growing plants in soil in greenhouse/glasshouses

(i) Hydroponics - growing plants without soil in a large shed or greenhouse

(j) Ways in which farmers can increase the nitrate content of soil



INDEX of biology notes on population growth, food security, sustainability and food production


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