National Geographic and Bayer CropScience announce the release of “Top Crop: Farming for the Future,” an interactive online game that aims to increase national agricultural literacy through educating students on the basics of what it takes to produce crops. Through a series of virtual growing seasons, game players will experience the various in-season challenges farmers face, such as pests, disease and weather, as well as learn about the multiple modern technologies available to farmers that can help them overcome those challenges.

“At National Geographic, we’re committed to educating tomorrow’s explorers, scientists, engineers and farmers about the world and how it works, and this ‘Top Crop’ game is a great example of how we can teach kids about the challenges and solutions farmers face in the real world through a fun and interactive game,” said National Geographic Chief Education Officer Melina Bellows.

“Top Crop” introduces a scenario where the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wishes to experiment with new technologies to support sustainable farming, and wants student game players to lead the way. If the student players can successfully grow crops, the USDA will provide the technology and equipment necessary to run a virtual modern agricultural operation. Throughout the course of the “Top Crop” story, game players help agricultural leaders figure out the best way to provide more healthy food and sustainable agriculture techniques to feed a growing global population.

By 2050, global food demand will increase by 60 percent, and meat consumption will increase by 70 percent. These demands must be met by cultivating more food on the same or fewer arable acres than exist today, in the face of a shrinking water supply, evolving pest pressures and a changing climate. “Top Crop” helps game players devise ways to best utilize their available resources to grow healthy crops and maximize overall crop yield.

“Bayer CropScience is proud to work alongside National Geographic to educate students on the role modern agriculture plays in our everyday lives,” said Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP. “In order to produce enough safe, healthy food for the 9 billion people that will inhabit our Earth by 2050, these students and so many other people need to get involved in writing the next chapter of agriculture’s history. That will only happen if we develop an agriculturally literate population that not only understands where their food comes from and how it is produced, but also develops a passion for solving the world’s most pressing food issues and fighting global hunger. ‘Top Crop’ is a fun way to get started down this path to educating and cultivating a new generation of agricultural game changers.”

“Top Crop: Farming For The Future” is available on National Geographic’s Education website at http://natgeoed.org/topcrop.