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The Tiny Country that Feeds the World

The U.S. exports more food than any other country in the world. Who is #2? Believe it or not, it's the Netherlands, which is tiny, only a thousand miles from the Arctic Circle, and partially below sea level. The Dutch produce more food per square mile than anyone, and rank #1 in the production of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, pears, carrots, potatoes, and onions per square mile. Their secret? A nationwide dedication to using science and innovation to improve yield.   

That copious output is made all the more remarkable by the other side of the balance sheet: inputs. Almost two decades ago, the Dutch made a national commitment to sustainable agriculture under the rallying cry “Twice as much food using half as many resources.” Since 2000, van den Borne and many of his fellow farmers have reduced dependence on water for key crops by as much as 90 percent. They’ve almost completely eliminated the use of chemical pesticides on plants in greenhouses, and since 2009 Dutch poultry and livestock producers have cut their use of antibiotics by as much as 60 percent.

An article at National Geographic looks at the large experimental farms that produce these enormous yields while constantly adding to their body of knowledge about sustainable farming techniques.

(Image credit: Luca Locatelli/National Geographic)

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