Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Primary production: Agriculture

Agricultural production sits at the heart of major societal concerns, spanning food security, nutrition and health; livelihoods and development; the environment;and animal ethics. In early history, the farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that allowed for the development of sedentary civilisation. Later, the Green Revolution of the twentieth century allowed for large groups of people, especially in developed countries, to “move off the land” and improved food supplies across much of the world. Yet while innovations in modern agronomy, plant and animal breeding, pesticides and fertilizer use have greatly increased food output, much environmental harm arising from these practices has occurred while concerns are also growing around excess calories and poor nutrition, leading to obesity and associated non communicable diseases as well as micronutrient deficiencies. Many of the 1.3 billion people worldwide who rely directly or indirectly on agriculture for their living face problems arising from imbalanced power structures, including poor working conditions, uncertain land use and tenure, and lack of access to inputs, infrastructure, capital and knowledge; these imbalances play out along the whole of the food value chain, between the genders, within country populations and across countries and regions. As to the environment, agriculture is responsible for some 20% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions of which about half arise directly from crop and livestock production and the other half from agriculturally induced land use change. It is also the main cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss, a major user and polluter of scarce water resources and responsible for the disruption of global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.

21 June 2017

FCRN member ffinlo Costain has alerted us to this report produced by Farmwel. Farmwel is an NGO working to generate momentum towards sustainable and accountable mainstream agriculture, focussing on the environment, people's livelihoods, and farm animal welfare. This blueprint report was produced with the additional support of the Conservative Environment Network, and the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation.

Photo: harmishhk, "éolienne", Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
21 June 2017

This study presents estimates of how changes in climate might affect the value of European farmland. Based on data for over 41 000 farms, the results suggest that their economic value could drop by up to 32%, depending on the climate scenario considered. The models represent severe, moderate and mild outcomes, respectively.  Farms in southern Europe are particularly sensitive to climate change and could suffer value losses of up to 9% per 1 °C rise.

Photo: Simone Fenger, Cassava production in Agroforestry system, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
12 June 2017

In this article a group of American researchers provide commentary on how sustainable applications of integrated agricultural systems (IAS) can be designed to enhance all ecosystem services, without compromising the land’s resilience. The authors describe IAS as an interactive and synergistic resource transfer between multiple agricultural enterprises over space and/or time. 

7 June 2017

Abbreviated abstract
Rapid structural transformation and urbanization are transforming agriculture and food production in rural areas across the world. This textbook provides a comprehensive review and assessment of the multi-faceted nature of agriculture and rural development, particularly in the developing world, where the greatest challenges occur.

Photo: Neil Palmer, CIAT Nicaragua, Flickr Creative commons licence 2.0  generic
1 June 2017

In this information note from the CGIAR programme on Climate change, Agriculture and Food security (CCAFS), researchers present a rough estimate of the proportion of global agricultural emissions that can be attributed to smallholder farmers in developing countries.

1 June 2017

This blog-post from the Conversation discusses the different positions and arguments in the political discussion around agriculture policy in Britain after Brexit. Viviane Gravey, Lecturer in European Politics at Queen's University Belfast highlights the potential consequences of leaving the EU and its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). 

26 May 2017

This research from USDA’s Economic Research Service looks at trends in consumer demand for organic food since the 1990s and developments in organic production.

8 May 2017

What is the latest science on soil's ability to pull carbon pollution out of the atmosphere? Breakthrough Strategies hosted a webinar on April 24 on the Technical Potential of Soil Carbon Sequestration. It featured three of the world’s leading experts on strategies for drawing carbon pollution out of the atmosphere and storing it in soils: Keith Paustian, Jean-François Soussana, and Eric Toensmeier.

8 May 2017

This book explores the potential benefits of Multifunctional Agriculture to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of tropical agriculture and its potential to deliver the new Sustainable Development Goals.

8 May 2017

This report on organic agriculture and climate change was commissioned by the IFOAM-EU Group and researched and written by FiBL (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture). It highlights organic agriculture’s potential to mitigate and adapt to climate change and underlines the importance of adopting a systemic approach - one which encompasses consumption - to reducing all the environmental impacts of agriculture.

Photo: Gralbeard, TomatoesRootSystem1-SouthGardenBed, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
8 May 2017

This research brings together data from 389 field trials to determine how the root and shoot biomass, and carbon (C) stocks of major crops correlate to soil C in different environmental conditions. The analysis found all crops allocated more C to their shoots than roots. The greatest C allocation to roots was in grasses (which also had the highest plant biomass production).

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