Sustainable intensification in agricultural systems

Pretty, Jules and Bharucha, Zareen Pervez (2014) Sustainable intensification in agricultural systems. Annals of Botany, 114 (8). pp. 1571-1596. ISSN 1095-8290

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcu205

Abstract

Background: Agricultural systems are amended ecosystems with a variety of properties. Modern agroecosystems have tended towards high through-flow systems, with energy supplied by fossil fuels directed out of the system (either deliberately for harvests or accidentally through side effects). In the coming decades, resource constraints over water, soil, biodiversity and land will affect agricultural systems. Sustainable agroecosystems are those tending to have a positive impact on natural, social and human capital, while unsustainable systems feed back to deplete these assets, leaving fewer for the future. Sustainable intensification (SI) is defined as a process or system where agricultural yields are increased without adverse environmental impact and without the conversion of additional non-agricultural land. The concept does not articulate or privilege any particular vision or method of agricultural production. Rather, it emphasizes ends rather than means, and does not pre-determine technologies, species mix or particular design components. The combination of the terms ‘sustainable’ and ‘intensification’ is an attempt to indicate that desirable outcomes around both more food and improved environmental goods and services could be achieved by a variety of means. Nonetheless, it remains controversial to some. Scope and Conclusions: This review analyses recent evidence of the impacts of SI in both developing and industrialized countries, and demonstrates that both yield and natural capital dividends can occur. The review begins with analysis of the emergence of combined agricultural–environmental systems, the environmental and social outcomes of recent agricultural revolutions, and analyses the challenges for food production this century as populations grow and consumption patterns change. Emergent criticisms are highlighted, and the positive impacts of SI on food outputs and renewable capital assets detailed. It concludes with observations on policies and incentives necessary for the wider adoption of SI, and indicates how SI could both promote transitions towards greener economies as well as benefit from progress in other sectors.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Sustainable intensification, Agricultural systems, Resilience
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email Zareen.Bharucha@anglia.ac.uk
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2018 08:30
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2018 08:32
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/703711

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