Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Sustainable intensification

9 December 2019

The US think tank Breakthrough Institute has created an interactive series of graphs to visualise how the environmental impact of farming in the United States has changed over time, covering land use, nitrogen loss, water, herbicides, soil erosion, greenhouse gas emissions and spending on research and development.

9 December 2019

This briefing from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) notes that demand for five cereals in sub-Saharan Africa is set to almost triple by 2050. It argues that it is possible for the region to be self-sufficient in cereals by 2050 using only the current area of cereal farmland, but that this requires significantly higher fertiliser use. To keep greenhouse gas emissions to the minimum possible will require suitable crop varieties, careful nutrient management, optimum planting densities and protection of crops against weeds, pests and diseases.

Image: Meena Kadri, Harvesting wheat #2, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
19 November 2019

This paper presents a study of wheat farmers in India. Low-cost data from small satellites helped to map the results of spreading fertiliser either by hand or with a new spreader device that allowed more even application of fertiliser. 

29 October 2019

The book Food for All in Africa: Sustainable Intensification for African Farmers argues that the way forward for African agriculture is to produce greater yields with fewer inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides.

25 June 2019

This report from the US-based Breakthrough Institute suggests that increasing the productivity of grazing systems, particularly in lower-income countries, can help to shrink the area of land used as pasture.

Image: Andy Farrington, Rotary Parlour at Broadwigg Farm, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
13 May 2019

This paper, written by researchers on the University of Oxford’s LEAP project and co-authored by the FCRN’s Tara Garnett, explores what drives the intensification of dairy farming, and the consequences for the environment, animal welfare, socio-economic wellbeing and human health. The paper also considers three potential approaches to addressing these consequences: sustainable intensification, multifunctionality, and agroecology.

Image: Charles Knowles, Eastern Washington wheat harvest, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
16 April 2019

This paper reviews studies where changes in both productivity and species richness have been tracked at the same location, following changes in the intensity of land use. On average, intensifying land use leads to a 20% gain in output and a 9% decrease in species richness, but there is considerable variation between different contexts.

Image: Neil Palmer CIAT, Amazon9, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
26 March 2019

In this research on the Brazilian Amazon, FCRN member Erasmus zu Ermgassen of UCLouvain finds that forest conservation and agricultural growth are not mutually exclusive, and sheds new light on the land sparing/sharing debate. The authors argue that enforcement of Brazil's forest laws is key to encouraging the efficient use of land and the sustainable development of the agricultural sector.

15 January 2019

This book, edited by Rachid Serraj and Prabhu Pingali, explores the threats and opportunities that global agricultural and food systems are likely to face between now and 2050. Chapter topics include global drivers and megatrends, urbanisation, technological innovation and intensification of agriculture.

10 December 2018

The World Resources Institute has published a new report outlining solutions for feeding 10 billion people without increasing emissions, fueling deforestation or exacerbating poverty.

Image: Maximilian Paradiz, Bean Burger, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
3 December 2018

The Dutch government-funded healthy eating agency Voedingscentrum has launched a new campaign encouraging men who eat a lot of meat to reduce their consumption. FCRN member Corné van Dooren says that men, on average, could eat 400g less meat per week to meet guidelines, while women could eat 100g less.

28 November 2018

This book, edited by David Barling and Jessica Fanzo, explores challenges related to protecting environmental resources while also meeting human nutritional requirements.

28 November 2018

The upcoming book In Defence of Farmers: The Future of Agriculture in the Shadow of Corporate Power, edited by Jane W. Gibson and Sara E. Alexander, uses case studies of farmers to explore the tensions between conflicting views of the role of industrial agriculture.

12 November 2018

Israeli startup Taranis has raised $20 million in funding for its aerial imaging technology, which uses multispectral images from satellites, planes and drones to scan fields. Artificial intelligence then identifies threats such as insects, crop disease, weeds and nutrient deficiencies. The company claims its technology can increase crop yields by up to 7.5%.

Image: Pxhere, Grass farm animal, CC0 Public Domain
2 October 2018

Relatively intensive, high-yield farming systems often have lower environmental impacts per unit of product, according to a new paper. The paper used a new framework to measure both land use and major environmental externalities (greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and nitrogen, phosphorus and soil losses) for several different farming systems.

Image: Žarko Šušnjar, Among the fields of wheat, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
12 September 2018

A new paper reviews the extent to which sustainable intensification has been achieved in England. It concludes that agricultural intensification drove environmental degradation during the 1980s. In the 1990s, however, yields became decoupled from fertiliser and pesticide use, meaning that some ecosystems services began to recover. The authors interpret their results as meaning that sustainable intensification has begun. Farmland biodiversity, however, has not recovered.

24 July 2018

This book, by Jules Pretty and Zareen Pervez Bharucha, explores the current state of knowledge of sustainable agricultural intensification in a variety of settings, including smallholder farms and industrialised countries.

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