A new study from the University of Minnesota projects that global food demand could double by 2050.
That's despite the fact the world's population is forecast to grow by less than 30 percent.
Jason Hill, a professor at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, said as people in developing countries get wealthier and eat more meat, demand for grain to feed livestock will continue to rise.
Hill said farmers in the developing world can meet that demand by using more fertilizer and water. He said more intensive farming can be environmentally friendly as long as farmers don't try to squeeze every last bit of grain out of each acre.
"If you intensify slightly or intensify somewhat, you can really take advantage of the yield response of crops to the slight change in inputs," Hill said. "It's really that last bushel that's really responsible for most of the environmental damage that's associated with agriculture."
More intensive farming is less damaging to the environment than clearing more land, he said.
The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.