Knowledge for better food systems

The Role of Agroecology in Sustainable Intensification

This report by the UK’s Land Use Policy Group discusses The Role of Agroecology in Sustainable Intensification and highlights agroecology as a method to safeguard UK food security. The report was prepared by the Organic Research Centre in collaboration with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.

The report finds that agro-ecological approaches in farming can, and will have to make, a major contribution to sustainable intensification of agriculture. The researchers of the study reviewed the evidence for a large range of agro-ecological practices and made a close comparison between conventional agricultural systems and integrated agriculture, organic farming and agroforestry, on the basis of productivity, profitability, energy and greenhouse gases, soils and water, and biodiversity.

The study notes that agroecological approaches can make a substantial contribution to ‘sustainable intensification’. The analysis suggests that there will be both win-win situations, as well as trade-offs between objectives.  Best overall results are likely to be reached when a mosaic approach is used, addressing specific needs, as well as providing more resilience compared with approaches relying on a single strategy.

The authors argue that future work on sustainable intensification should place a high priority on sustainability and improved environmental performance, where improving efficiency should be accompanied by substituting inputs and implementing system redesign. The report also calls for better information and knowledge exchange systems on agroecological approaches, building on tacit farmer knowledge and active farmer participation. A stronger focus on agroecological practices and systems in education provision at vocational skills, further and higher education levels, as well as in research and innovation is also advocated.

You can download the report here and read more here.

You will find more resources on agroecology and sustainable intensification in our research library.

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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