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Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1177/0030727021998063

Regenerative Agriculture: An agronomic perspective:

02 Mar 2021-Outlook on Agriculture (SAGE Publications)-Vol. 50, Iss: 1, pp 13-25
Abstract: Agriculture is in crisis. Soil health is collapsing. Biodiversity faces the sixth mass extinction. Crop yields are plateauing. Against this crisis narrative swells a clarion call for Regenerative A...

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Topics: Regenerative agriculture (63%), Agroecology (52%), Agriculture (51%) ... show more

16 results found

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1007/S12571-021-01184-6
03 Sep 2021-Food Security
Abstract: Achieving SDG2 (zero hunger) in a situation of rapid global population growth requires a continued focus on food production. Farming not merely needs to sustainably produce nutritious diets, but should also provide livelihoods for farmers, while retaining natural ecosystems and services. Rather than focusing on production principles, this article explores the interrelations between farms and farming systems in the global food system. Evaluating farming systems around the world, we reveal a bewildering diversity. While family farms predominate, these range in size from less than 0.1 ha to more than 10,000 ha, and from hand hoe use to machine-based cultivation, enabling one person to plant more than 500 ha in a day. Yet, farming in different parts of the world is highly interdependent, not least because prices paid for farm produce are largely determined by global markets. Furthermore, the economic viability of farming is a problem, globally. We highlight trends in major regions of the world and explore possible trajectories for the future and ask: Who are the farmers of the future? Changing patterns of land ownership, rental and exchange mean that the concept of ‘what is a farm’ becomes increasingly fluid. Next to declining employment and rural depopulation, we also foresee more environmentally-friendly, less external input dependent, regionalised production systems. This may require the reversal of a global trend towards increasing specialisation to a recoupling of arable and livestock farming, not least for the resilience it provides. It might also require a slow-down or reversal of the widespread trend of scale enlargement in agriculture. Next to this trend of scale enlargement, small farms persist in Asia: consolidation of farms proceeds at a snail’s pace in South-east Asia and 70% of farms in India are ‘ultra-small’ – less than 0.05 ha. Also in Africa, where we find smallholder farms are much smaller than often assumed (< 1 ha), farming households are often food insecure. A raft of pro-poor policies and investments are needed to stimulate small-scale agriculture as part of a broader focus on rural development to address persistent poverty and hunger. Smallholder farms will remain an important source of food and income, and a social safety net in absence of alternative livelihood security. But with limited possibilities for smallholders to ‘step-up’, the agricultural engine of growth appears to be broken. Smallholder agriculture cannot deliver the rate of economic growth currently assumed by many policy initiatives in Africa.

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Topics: Food security (59%), Food systems (59%), Agriculture (57%) ... show more

8 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1111/SUM.12721
David S. Powlson1Institutions (1)
Topics: Terminology (63%)

2 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1007/S11625-021-00993-0
Hannah Gosnell1Institutions (1)
Abstract: Understanding what motivates farmers to adopt “climate-smart” regenerative practices is critical for developing the right policies, incentives, outreach, and support mechanisms. This article explores factors that motivated farmers in NSW Australia to transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture (RA), focusing on the role that their perceptions of agrochemicals and the microbiome played. Drawing on integral theory, the article takes a holistic approach to analyzing how farmer interiorities in personal and collective realms interacted with external behavior and the larger social-ecological system in which food and fiber is produced. A key finding is that negative experiences with agrochemicals associated with increasing costs and declining results were an important driver of change. Conversely, positive experiences learning about the microbiome and practicing ecological approaches to fertilization and pest control engendered enthusiasm and commitment to a transition away from high-input agriculture and a transformation in mindset. Further, conviviality associated with communities of practice, e.g. microscope groups, played an important role in the transition process, as farmers solidified new identities and participated in ongoing social learning. Based on these results, I argue that farmers’ feelings of kinship with nature (animals, plants, microbes) resulting from learning about and working with soil are underappreciated drivers of behavioral change and powerful leverage points for larger-scale social-ecological transformation. The integral model facilitates recognition of the connections between soil condition, farmers’ perceptions of and feelings about its condition, ensuing behavior including participation in new networks, and the creation of new norms, all of which create space for the emergence of institutional and systemic change.

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Topics: Social learning (54%), Regenerative agriculture (52%), Mindset (50%)

2 Citations

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1111/PPA.13493
28 Oct 2021-Plant Pathology
Abstract: © 2021 The Authors. Plant Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Society for Plant Pathology. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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2 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.BIOCON.2021.109167
Frédéric Baudron1, Bram Govaerts2, Bram Govaerts1, Nele Verhulst1  +2 moreInstitutions (2)
Abstract: Increased agricultural production through both intensification and extensification is a major driver of the current biodiversity crisis. As a response, two contrasting approaches have been advocated: ‘land sparing’, which minimizes demand for farmland by increasing yield, and ‘land sharing’, which boosts densities of wild populations on farmland but decreases agricultural yields. While these approaches have been useful in drawing attention to the impact of meeting the growing global demand for agricultural products on biodiversity, they have been driven mainly by conservation ecologists, and have often overlooked important issues related to farming. As agricultural scientists with practical experience in developing, testing and scaling alternative forms of agriculture in some of the most biodiversity-rich areas of Latin America, Eastern and Southern Africa and South Asia, we are pointing in this paper at what we see as being two major limitations of the land sparing/sharing framework: (1) the reliance on yield-density relationships that focus on trade-offs and overlook synergies between agriculture and biodiversity, and (2) the overemphasis on crop yield, neglecting other metrics of agricultural performance which may be more important to local farmers, and more strongly associated with positive biodiversity outcomes. It is our hope that this paper will stimulate other agricultural scientists to contribute to the land sparing/sharing framework, in order to develop together with conservation ecologists viable solutions for both improved agricultural production and biodiversity conservation.

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Topics: Agricultural productivity (59%), Agriculture (53%)

1 Citations


58 results found

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1023/A:1016125726789
01 Apr 2002-Plant and Soil
Abstract: The relationship between soil structure and the ability of soil to stabilize soil organic matter (SOM) is a key element in soil C dynamics that has either been overlooked or treated in a cursory fashion when developing SOM models. The purpose of this paper is to review current knowledge of SOM dynamics within the framework of a newly proposed soil C saturation concept. Initially, we distinguish SOM that is protected against decomposition by various mechanisms from that which is not protected from decomposition. Methods of quantification and characteristics of three SOM pools defined as protected are discussed. Soil organic matter can be: (1) physically stabilized, or protected from decomposition, through microaggregation, or (2) intimate association with silt and clay particles, and (3) can be biochemically stabilized through the formation of recalcitrant SOM compounds. In addition to behavior of each SOM pool, we discuss implications of changes in land management on processes by which SOM compounds undergo protection and release. The characteristics and responses to changes in land use or land management are described for the light fraction (LF) and particulate organic matter (POM). We defined the LF and POM not occluded within microaggregates (53–250 μm sized aggregates as unprotected. Our conclusions are illustrated in a new conceptual SOM model that differs from most SOM models in that the model state variables are measurable SOM pools. We suggest that physicochemical characteristics inherent to soils define the maximum protective capacity of these pools, which limits increases in SOM (i.e. C sequestration) with increased organic residue inputs.

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Topics: Soil organic matter (63%), Soil structure (52%), Soil water (51%)

2,815 Citations

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1371/JOURNAL.PONE.0185809
Caspar A. Hallmann1, Martin Sorg, Eelke Jongejans1, Henk Siepel1  +8 moreInstitutions (2)
18 Oct 2017-PLOS ONE
Abstract: Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning. Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna. Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.

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Topics: Biomass (ecology) (55%)

1,424 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.FCR.2009.06.017
Ken E. Giller1, Ken E. Giller2, Ernst Witter2, Marc Corbeels2  +3 moreInstitutions (3)
Abstract: Conservation agriculture is claimed to be a panacea for the problems of poor agricultural productivity and soil degradation in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It is actively promoted by international research and development organisations, with such strong advocacy that critical debate is stifled. Claims for the potential of CA in Africa are based on widespread adoption in the Americas, where the effects of tillage were replaced by heavy dependence on herbicides and fertilizers. CA is said to increase yields, to reduce labour requirements, improve soil fertility and reduce erosion. Yet empirical evidence is not clear and consistent on many of these points nor is it always clear which of the principles of CA contribute to the desired effects. Although cases can be found where such claims are supported there are equally convincing scientific reports that contradict these claims. Concerns include decreased yields often observed with CA, increased labour requirements when herbicides are not used, an important gender shift of the labour burden to women and a lack of mulch due to poor productivity and due to the priority given to feeding of livestock with crop residues. Despite the publicity claiming widespread adoption of CA, the available evidence suggests virtually no uptake of CA in most SSA countries, with only small groups of adopters in South Africa, Ghana and Zambia. We conclude that there is an urgent need for critical assessment under which ecological and socio-economic conditions CA is best suited for smallholder farming in SSA. Critical constraints to adoption appear to be competing uses for crop residues, increased labour demand for weeding, and lack of access to, and use of external inputs.

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Topics: Agricultural productivity (52%), Sustainable agriculture (52%), Productivity (51%) ... show more

1,241 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/S0167-1987(97)00038-X
D. W. Reeves1Institutions (1)
Abstract: Maintenance and improvement of soil quality in continuous cropping systems is critical to sustaining agricultural productivity and environmental quality for future generations. This review focuses on lessons learned from long-term continuous cropping experiments. Soil organic carbon (SOC) is the most often reported attribute from long-term studies and is chosen as the most important indicator of soil quality and agronomic sustainability because of its impact on other physical, chemical and biological indicators of soil quality. Long-term studies have consistently shown the benefit of manures, adequate fertilization, and crop rotation on maintaining agronomic productivity by increasing C inputs into the soil. However, even with crop rotation and manure additions, continuous cropping results in a decline in SOC, although the rate and magnitude of the decline is affected by cropping and tillage system, climate and soil. In the oldest of these studies, the influence of tillage on SOC and dependent soil quality indicators can only be inferred from rotation treatments which included ley rotations (with their reduced frequency of tillage). The impact of tillage per se on SOC and soil quality has only been tested in the ‘long-term’ for about 30 yrs, since the advent of conservation tillage techniques, and only in developed countries in temperate regions. Long-term conservation tillage studies have shown that, within climatic limits: Conservation tillage can sustain or actually increase SOC when coupled with intensive cropping systems; and the need for sound rotation practices in order to maintain agronomic productivity and economic sustainability is more critical in conservation tillage systems than conventional tillage systems. Long-term tillage studies are in their infancy. Preserving and improving these valuable resources is critical to our development of soil management practices for sustaining soil quality in continuous cropping systems.

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Topics: Minimum tillage (74%), Conventional tillage (69%), Soil management (69%) ... show more

1,123 Citations

Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/NATURE13531
17 Jul 2014-Nature
Abstract: Recent studies have shown that neonicotinoid insecticides have adverse effects on non-target invertebrate species. Invertebrates constitute a substantial part of the diet of many bird species during the breeding season and are indispensable for raising offspring. We investigated the hypothesis that the most widely used neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, has a negative impact on insectivorous bird populations. Here we show that, in the Netherlands, local population trends were significantly more negative in areas with higher surface-water concentrations of imidacloprid. At imidacloprid concentrations of more than 20 nanograms per litre, bird populations tended to decline by 3.5 per cent on average annually. Additional analyses revealed that this spatial pattern of decline appeared only after the introduction of imidacloprid to the Netherlands, in the mid-1990s. We further show that the recent negative relationship remains after correcting for spatial differences in land-use changes that are known to affect bird populations in farmland. Our results suggest that the impact of neonicotinoids on the natural environment is even more substantial than has recently been reported and is reminiscent of the effects of persistent insecticides in the past. Future legislation should take into account the potential cascading effects of neonicotinoids on ecosystems.

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Topics: Neonicotinoid (59%), Imidacloprid (56%)

596 Citations

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