Standard Article

Agricultural Production

  1. David Pimentel

Published Online: 17 OCT 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0003254.pub2



How to Cite

Pimentel, D. 2011. Agricultural Production. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 OCT 2011


World food security is threatened because agricultural production is unable to keep up with the increasing demand for food to feed a rapidly growing human population. Soil erosion due to agricultural production occurs much faster than soil formation. Water is fundamental to food production requiring 1000 L to produce 1 kg of biomass. Plants only collect less than 0.1% of energy reaching them per year. Approximately 10 kcal of fossil energy are required to produce 1 kcal of food. Finite natural resources, such as land, water and energy, limit what most technological advances in agricultural production can accomplish. If projected human population growth comes to pass, additional malnutrition and even further starvation will occur. Severe social and political disorder will also occur because agricultural production will fail to keep pace with population growth.

Key Concepts:

  • Malnutrition is more than simply not enough food or even being hungry or not but whether adequate absorption of food nutrients occurs and how successfully disease and parasitic organisms compete for nutrients with the human organism they may come to inhabit.


  • agriculture;
  • agricultural production;
  • food;
  • population