Here’s what we know to be true…

By 2050, there will be more than 9 billion people on the planet.

But we’ve lost a third of all arable land worldwide in the last 40 years, and that trend is only accelerating.

One farmer in Iowa is working on a novel solution to this dilemma:

“We all could use some good news. Here is some. This is a story about breaking free. There’s more than corn, beans and hogs growing in north-central Iowa this summer. It turns out that the future may be taking shape just outside Buffalo Center. That’s where farmer Zack Smith has set aside one of his 305 acres of corn/soy to experiment with a system that he calls the Stock Cropper. As the name tells you, both livestock and plants are involved. In the same field. At the same time.

“The setup involves alternating strips of 12 rows of corn and 20 feet of annual pasture. The pasture is a mix of five species selected so that they provide dependable growth during both the cool and hot parts of the season (forage rape, field peas, oats, annual ryegrass, and Sudan grass). This forage is to support a menagerie of goats, sheep, hogs, and chickens that are each performing different jobs.

“The livestock live in a mobile pen that provides them shelter, food and water, allowing them to range in the open while not damaging the corn crop. The mobile barns move 11 feet daily through each pasture strip, permitting the livestock to methodically convert forage and soil insects into meat and fertility for the soil by just being themselves.”

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We need to find new ways to grow crops and raise livestock to feed all of these new people with the resources we have access to.

Is sharing land between animals and plants the answer? It may not be, but it’s some outside-the-box thinking and it’s a step in the right direction.

Because the time is now to come up with solutions, before we hit 9 billion.