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Agroecosystems

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Pablo Tittonell – 1st expert on this subject based on the ideXlab platform

  • livelihood strategies resilience and transformability in african Agroecosystems
    Agricultural Systems, 2014
    Co-Authors: Pablo Tittonell

    Abstract:

    Aiming to translate resilience thinking theory into farming systems design practice, this paper examines fundamental properties of complex systems dynamics and their relation with the mechanisms that govern resilience and transformability in African smallholder agriculture. Agroecosystems dynamics emerge from the aggregation of diverse livelihood strategies in response to changes in the agroecosystem context, and are characterised by non-linearity, irreversibility, convergence/divergence and hysteresis. I examine a number of case studies from Africa to verify three guiding hypotheses in connection to the diversity of rural livelihood strategies: (1) diversity as alternative system regimes; (2) diversity as the result of transformability; (3) diversity determined by changing agricultural contexts. The hierarchy of constraints that determine the space for manoeuvring in Agroecosystems is described through the analogy of the Matryoshka nesting dolls: each system level confines and is confined by their immediate sub- and supra-systems. Agricultural contexts, as defined by agro-ecological potential, demography and market connectivity are also dynamic and their trajectory can be described as shifts across stability domains. An example from Kenya shows that household diversity can be described as alternative system regimes, through hysteretic rather than continuous, reversible models. In some particular cases diversity emerges from divergent pathways that may have implied radical transformations in the past, as shown here for rural livelihoods in northern Cameroun. A comparative analysis of East African Agroecosystems shows that thresholds in specific variables that may point to the existence of possible tipping points are rather elusive and largely site specific, requiring systematic categorisation of agricultural contexts. While agroecology needs to provide the knowledge base for the ecological intensification of smallholder landscapes, policy and market developments are needed to deal with the Matryoshka effect – or with interactions that are presumably panarchical in certain cases. Desirable shifts in farming systems can only be stimulated by working on both ends simultaneously.

  • Livelihood strategies, resilience and transformability in African Agroecosystems
    Agricultural Systems, 2014
    Co-Authors: Pablo Tittonell

    Abstract:

    Aiming to translate resilience thinking theory into farming systems design practice, this paper examines fundamental properties of complex systems dynamics and their relation with the mechanisms that govern resilience and transformability in African smallholder agriculture. Agroecosystems dynamics emerge from the aggregation of diverse livelihood strategies in response to changes in the agroecosystem context, and are characterised by non-linearity, irreversibility, convergence/divergence and hysteresis. I examine a number of case studies from Africa to verify three guiding hypotheses in connection to the diversity of rural livelihood strategies: (1) diversity as alternative system regimes; (2) diversity as the result of transformability; (3) diversity determined by changing agricultural contexts. The hierarchy of constraints that determine the space for manoeuvring in Agroecosystems is described through the analogy of the Matryoshka nesting dolls: each system level confines and is confined by their immediate sub- and supra-systems. Agricultural contexts, as defined by agro-ecological potential, demography and market connectivity are also dynamic and their trajectory can be described as shifts across stability domains. An example from Kenya shows that household diversity can be described as alternative system regimes, through hysteretic rather than continuous, reversible models. In some particular cases diversity emerges from divergent pathways that may have implied radical transformations in the past, as shown here for rural livelihoods in northern Cameroun. A comparative analysis of East African Agroecosystems shows that thresholds in specific variables that may point to the existence of possible tipping points are rather elusive and largely site specific, requiring systematic categorisation of agricultural contexts. While agroecology needs to provide the knowledge base for the ecological intensification of smallholder landscapes, policy and market developments are needed to deal with the Matryoshka effect – or with interactions that are presumably panarchical in certain cases. Desirable shifts in farming systems can only be stimulated by working on both ends simultaneously. © 2013 The Author.

Marcos A. Lana – 2nd expert on this subject based on the ideXlab platform

  • Agroecology and the design of climate change-resilient farming systems
    Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2015
    Co-Authors: Miguel Altieri, Clara I. Nicholls, Alejandro Henao, Marcos A. Lana

    Abstract:

    Diverse, severe, and location-specific impacts on agricultural production are anticipated with climate change. The last IPCC report indicates that the rise of CO_2 and associated “greenhouse” gases could lead to a 1.4 to 5.8 °C increase in global surface temperatures, with subsequent consequences on precipitation frequency and amounts. Temperature and water availability remain key factors in determining crop growth and productivity; predicted changes in these factors will lead to reduced crop yields. Climate-induced changes in insect pest, pathogen and weed population dynamics and invasiveness could compound such effects. Undoubtedly, climate- and weather-induced instability will affect levels of and access to food supply, altering social and economic stability and regional competiveness. Adaptation is considered a key factor that will shape the future severity of climate change impacts on food production. Changes that will not radically modify the monoculture nature of dominant Agroecosystems may moderate negative impacts temporarily. The biggest and most durable benefits will likely result from more radical agroecological measures that will strengthen the resilience of farmers and rural communities, such as diversification of agroecosytems in the form of polycultures, agroforestry systems, and crop-livestock mixed systems accompanied by organic soil management, water conservation and harvesting, and general enhancement of agrobiodiversity. Traditional farming systems are repositories of a wealth of principles and measures that can help modern agricultural systems become more resilient to climatic extremes. Many of these agroecological strategies that reduce vulnerabilities to climate variability include crop diversification, maintaining local genetic diversity, animal integration, soil organic management, water conservation and harvesting, etc. Understanding the agroecological features that underlie the resilience of traditional Agroecosystems is an urgent matter, as they can serve as the foundation for the design of adapted agricultural systems. Observations of agricultural performance after extreme climatic events (hurricanes and droughts) in the last two decades have revealed that resiliency to climate disasters is closely linked to farms with increased levels of biodiversity. Field surveys and results reported in the literature suggest that Agroecosystems are more resilient when inserted in a complex landscape matrix, featuring adapted local germplasm deployed in diversified cropping systems managed with organic matter rich soils and water conservation-harvesting techniques. The identification of systems that have withstood climatic events recently or in the past and understanding the agroecological features of such systems that allowed them to resist and/or recover from extreme events is of increased urgency, as the derived resiliency principles and practices that underlie successful farms can be disseminated to thousands of farmers via Campesino a Campesino networks to scale up agroecological practices that enhance the resiliency of Agroecosystems. The effective diffusion of agroecological technologies will largely determine how well and how fast farmers adapt to climate change.

  • Agroecology and the design of climate change-resilient farming systems
    Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2015
    Co-Authors: Clara I. Nicholls, Alejandro Henao, Marcos A. Lana

    Abstract:

    © 2015, INRA and Springer-Verlag France. Diverse, severe, and location-specific impacts on agricultural production are anticipated with climate change. The last IPCC report indicates that the rise of CO < inf > 2 < /inf > and associated “greenhouse” gases could lead to a 1.4 to 5.8 °C increase in global surface temperatures, with subsequent consequences on precipitation frequency and amounts. Temperature and water availability remain key factors in determining crop growth and productivity; predicted changes in these factors will lead to reduced crop yields. Climate-induced changes in insect pest, pathogen and weed population dynamics and invasiveness could compound such effects. Undoubtedly, climate- and weather-induced instability will affect levels of and access to food supply, altering social and economic stability and regional competiveness. Adaptation is considered a key factor that will shape the future severity of climate change impacts on food production. Changes that will not radically modify the monoculture nature of dominant Agroecosystems may moderate negative impacts temporarily. The biggest and most durable benefits will likely result from more radical agroecological measures that will strengthen the resilience of farmers and rural communities, such as diversification of agroecosytems in the form of polycultures, agroforestry systems, and crop-livestock mixed systems accompanied by organic soil management, water conservation and harvesting, and general enhancement of agrobiodiversity. Traditional farming systems are repositories of a wealth of principles and measures that can help modern agricultural systems become more resilient to climatic extremes. Many of these agroecological strategies that reduce vulnerabilities to climate variability include crop diversification, maintaining local genetic diversity, animal integration, soil organic management, water conservation and harvesting, etc. Understanding the agroecological features that underlie the resilience of traditional Agroecosystems is an urgent matter, as they can serve as the foundation for the design of adapted agricultural systems. Observations of agricultural performance after extreme climatic events (hurricanes and droughts) in the last two decades have revealed that resiliency to climate disasters is closely linked to farms with increased levels of biodiversity. Field surveys and results reported in the literature suggest that Agroecosystems are more resilient when inserted in a complex landscape matrix, featuring adapted local germplasm deployed in diversified cropping systems managed with organic matter rich soils and water conservation-harvesting techniques. The identification of systems that have withstood climatic events recently or in the past and understanding the agroecological features of such systems that allowed them to resist and/or recover from extreme events is of increased urgency, as the derived resiliency principles and practices that underlie successful farms can be disseminated to thousands of farmers via Campesino a Campesino networks to scale up agroecological practices that enhance the resiliency of Agroecosystems. The effective diffusion of agroecological technologies will largely determine how well and how fast farmers adapt to climate change.

Miguel Altieri – 3rd expert on this subject based on the ideXlab platform

  • Agroecology and the design of climate change-resilient farming systems
    Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2015
    Co-Authors: Miguel Altieri, Clara I. Nicholls, Alejandro Henao, Marcos A. Lana

    Abstract:

    Diverse, severe, and location-specific impacts on agricultural production are anticipated with climate change. The last IPCC report indicates that the rise of CO_2 and associated “greenhouse” gases could lead to a 1.4 to 5.8 °C increase in global surface temperatures, with subsequent consequences on precipitation frequency and amounts. Temperature and water availability remain key factors in determining crop growth and productivity; predicted changes in these factors will lead to reduced crop yields. Climate-induced changes in insect pest, pathogen and weed population dynamics and invasiveness could compound such effects. Undoubtedly, climate- and weather-induced instability will affect levels of and access to food supply, altering social and economic stability and regional competiveness. Adaptation is considered a key factor that will shape the future severity of climate change impacts on food production. Changes that will not radically modify the monoculture nature of dominant Agroecosystems may moderate negative impacts temporarily. The biggest and most durable benefits will likely result from more radical agroecological measures that will strengthen the resilience of farmers and rural communities, such as diversification of agroecosytems in the form of polycultures, agroforestry systems, and crop-livestock mixed systems accompanied by organic soil management, water conservation and harvesting, and general enhancement of agrobiodiversity. Traditional farming systems are repositories of a wealth of principles and measures that can help modern agricultural systems become more resilient to climatic extremes. Many of these agroecological strategies that reduce vulnerabilities to climate variability include crop diversification, maintaining local genetic diversity, animal integration, soil organic management, water conservation and harvesting, etc. Understanding the agroecological features that underlie the resilience of traditional Agroecosystems is an urgent matter, as they can serve as the foundation for the design of adapted agricultural systems. Observations of agricultural performance after extreme climatic events (hurricanes and droughts) in the last two decades have revealed that resiliency to climate disasters is closely linked to farms with increased levels of biodiversity. Field surveys and results reported in the literature suggest that Agroecosystems are more resilient when inserted in a complex landscape matrix, featuring adapted local germplasm deployed in diversified cropping systems managed with organic matter rich soils and water conservation-harvesting techniques. The identification of systems that have withstood climatic events recently or in the past and understanding the agroecological features of such systems that allowed them to resist and/or recover from extreme events is of increased urgency, as the derived resiliency principles and practices that underlie successful farms can be disseminated to thousands of farmers via Campesino a Campesino networks to scale up agroecological practices that enhance the resiliency of Agroecosystems. The effective diffusion of agroecological technologies will largely determine how well and how fast farmers adapt to climate change.

  • Agroecological Principles for Sustainable Agriculture
    Agroecological innovations : increasing food production with participatory development, 2002
    Co-Authors: Miguel Altieri

    Abstract:

    This paper discusses the principles of agroecology, the advantages of biodiversification in Agroecosystems, and the application of agroecology in the design of sustainable Agroecosystems.\n

  • the ecological role of biodiversity in Agroecosystems
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 1999
    Co-Authors: Miguel Altieri

    Abstract:

    Increasingly research suggests that the level of internal regulation of function in Agroecosystems is largely dependent on the level of plant and animal biodiversity present. In Agroecosystems, biodiversity performs a variety of ecological services beyond the production of food, including recycling of nutrients, regulation of microclimate and local hydrological processes, suppression of undesirable organisms and detoxification of noxious chemicals. In this paper the role of biodiversity in securing crop protection and soil fertility is explored in detail. It is argued that because biodiversity mediated renewal processes and ecological services are largely biological, their persistence depends upon the maintenance of biological integrity and diversity in Agroecosystems. Various options of agroecosystem management and design that enhance functional biodiversity in crop fields are described. ©1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.