Long-term evidence for ecological intensification as a pathway to sustainable agriculture

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

MacLaren, C., Mead, A., Van Balen, D., Claessens, L., Etana, A., De Haan, J., Haagsma, W., Jack, O., Keller, T., Labuschagne, J., Myrbeck, A., Necpalova, M., Nziguheba, G., Six, J., Strauss, J., Swanepoel, P. A., Thierfelder, C., Topp, C., Tshuma, F., Verstegen, H., Walker, R., Watson, C., Wesselink, M. and Storkey, J. 2022. Long-term evidence for ecological intensification as a pathway to sustainable agriculture. Nature Sustainability. 5, pp. 770-779. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-022-00911-x

AuthorsMacLaren, C., Mead, A., Van Balen, D., Claessens, L., Etana, A., De Haan, J., Haagsma, W., Jack, O., Keller, T., Labuschagne, J., Myrbeck, A., Necpalova, M., Nziguheba, G., Six, J., Strauss, J., Swanepoel, P. A., Thierfelder, C., Topp, C., Tshuma, F., Verstegen, H., Walker, R., Watson, C., Wesselink, M. and Storkey, J.
Abstract

Ecological intensification (EI) could help return agriculture into a ‘safe operating space’ for humanity. Using a novel application of meta-analysis to data from 30 long-term experiments from Europe and Africa (comprising 25,565 yield records), we investigated how field-scale EI practices interact with each other, and with N fertilizer and tillage, in their effects on long-term crop yields. Here we confirmed that EI practices (specifically, increasing crop diversity and adding fertility crops and organic matter) have generally positive effects on the yield of staple crops. However, we show that EI practices have a largely substitutive interaction with N fertilizer, so that EI practices substantially increase yield at low N fertilizer doses but have minimal or no effect on yield at high N fertilizer doses. EI practices had comparable effects across different tillage intensities, and reducing tillage did not strongly affect yields.

KeywordsAgroecology; Agriculture; Environmental Impact
Year of Publication2022
JournalNature Sustainability
Journal citation5, pp. 770-779
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-022-00911-x
Web address (URL)https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-022-00911-x
Open accessPublished as green open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Global Challenges Research Fund (UKRI)
Natural Environment Research Council
Lawes Agricultural Trust
Funder project or codeGLTEN Africa: Cropping system diversity, a cornerstone of sustainable intensification.
The Rothamsted Long-Term Experiments including Sample Archive and e-RA database [2012-2017]
S2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 2 (WP2) - Adaptive management systems for improved efficiency and nutritional quality
Publisher's version
Copyright license
CC BY
Accepted author manuscript
Copyright license
CC BY
Supplemental file
Copyright license
CC BY
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online27 Jun 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted06 May 2022
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISSN2398-9629

Permalink - https://repository.rothamsted.ac.uk/item/987w2/long-term-evidence-for-ecological-intensification-as-a-pathway-to-sustainable-agriculture

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