Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Sustainable intensification

9 July 2014

Collaborating with Asda, Sainsbury’s, Nestlé, AB Agri, Yara, BASF, BOCM Pauls, Volac and the NFU and CLA, the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainable Leadership has produced a report entitled The Best Use of UK Agricultural Land which considers how to best manage the 35% difference they projected between the supply and demand of available land.

9 July 2014

This report builds on the dialogue built during a workshop held by RISE in 2014 regarding the measurement of farming environmental performance so as to further refine the definitions of sustainable intensification and the subsequent implications that such definitions pose on policy making to progress it. In doing so, the report explores three different case studies: The first case study focuses on soil performance and resilience. It shows how achieving sustainable intensification is highly dependent on having sound measurement of the underlying conditions.

9 July 2014

This working paper, discussing indicators for sustainable agriculture, is published as Part 6 of a major report by WRI – Creating a Sustainable Food Future.

9 July 2014

This paper critiques the concept of sustainable intensification as follows: “Though often lauded by scientists and policy makers alike as a panacea to the mass environmental degradation that accompanies typical food production processes, the authors find that ‘sustainable intensification’ is actually highly unsustainable as it fails to consider the long run social, economic and ecological consequences of intensified production. Thus the authors aim to redefine the scope of the discourse, moving beyond simple calls for increased production capacities to instead enmesh food security within a more holistic approach to development which requires better governance, more empowerment, and greater access and fairer distribution of food within more resilient food systems. Ultimately, sustainable intensification is rendered worthless if those facing dire food insecurity remain unable to access the yields of increasing production.“ 

26 March 2014

This paper reviews one aspect of the food sustainability challenge: the goal of producing more food – a goal that is unthinkingly accepted by some and vigorously contested by  others. The paper argues that increased food production is necessary but also emphasises that this alone, as a response to the challenge, is not sufficient.

27 February 2014

A recent study from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research finds that the UK is failing to make the most of its abundant biomass potential. The researchers found that almost half, up to 44%, of the UK's energy could be produced within the country by using biomass sources, including household waste, agricultural residues and home-grown biofuels. The UK currently produces about half of the food it consumes, and is ~60% ‘self-sufficient’. Although complete food self-sufficiency is not the current goal, the researchers stress that improved food system adaptive capacity is important if the UK is to cope with future stresses in the food system.

14 February 2014

Abstract

There is an urgent need to increase agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa in a sustainable and economically-viable manner. Transforming risk-averse smallholders into business-oriented producers that invest in producing surplus food for sale provides a formidable challenge, both from a technological and socio-political perspective.

28 January 2014

The report Save and grow: Cassava is a 140 page guide for farmers and policy makers alike, showing how “Save and Grow” can help cassava growers avoid the risks of intensification, while realizing the crop’s potential for producing higher yields. This in turn, is described as a pathway for alleviating hunger and rural poverty, and contributing to national economic development. This is the first in a series of guides on the practical application of FAO’s ecosystem-based model of agriculture, which aims at improving productivity while conserving natural resources.

19 December 2013

This blog-post in The Economist, written by Sir Gordon Conway and Katy Wilson, describes their views on sustainable intensification.  They argue that, to ensure food security in ways that maximise both agricultural output and the health of the environment and ecosystem, we need to redesign our innovation systems to aid multidisciplinary and collaborative research.

19 December 2013

This paper, which looks at the impact of agricultural intensification on soils across Europe, suggests that differences in the intensity of land use significantly affects soil ecosystems and the services they provide. High intensity arable land use is found to a have lower diversity and biomass of soil organisms than lower intensity arable or permanent grassland, and that this affects the carbon and nitrogen cycles in the environment.

6 November 2013

This paper contributes to the ongoing  discussion on sustainable intensification in agriculture, focusing on the question of whether further yield increases are still possible. The researchers looked at trends in productivity increases achieved through the introduction of new varieties in the Netherlands between 1980 and 2010. A statistical technique allowed them to separate the influence of weather, CO2 levels and crop management from the effect of the new varieties themselves.

21 October 2013

This briefing paper was produced by Sir Gordon Conway together with colleagues from the Agriculture for Impact program at Imperial College London and researchers from Harvard Kennedy School and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). The briefing paper argues that African food production remains well below its potential and that innovation for sustainable intensification can help smallholder farmers produce more food with less impact on the environment while also improving agriculture’s sustainability.

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