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

MacLaren, Chloe and Mead, Andrew and van Balen, Derk and Claessens, Lieven and Etana, Ararso and de Haan, Janjo and Haagsma, Wiepie and Jäck, Ortrud and Keller, Thomas and Labuschagne, Johan and Myrbeck, Åsa and Myrbeck, Asa and Necpalova, Magdalena and Six, Johan and Strauss, Johann and Swanepoel, Pieter Andreas and Thierfelder, Christian and Topp, Cairistiona F.E. and Tshuma, Flackson and Verstegen, Harry and Watson, Christine and Wesselink, Marie and Storkey, Jonathan (2022). Long-term evidence for ecological intensification as a pathway to sustainable agriculture. Nature sustainability
[Research article]

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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.Intensifying food production sustainably is critical given growing demand and agriculture's environmental footprint. This meta-analysis finds that practices such as adding organic matter and increasing crop diversity can partly substitute for nitrogen fertilizer to sustain or increase yields.

Authors/Creators:MacLaren, Chloe and Mead, Andrew and van Balen, Derk and Claessens, Lieven and Etana, Ararso and de Haan, Janjo and Haagsma, Wiepie and Jäck, Ortrud and Keller, Thomas and Labuschagne, Johan and Myrbeck, Åsa and Myrbeck, Asa and Necpalova, Magdalena and Six, Johan and Strauss, Johann and Swanepoel, Pieter Andreas and Thierfelder, Christian and Topp, Cairistiona F.E. and Tshuma, Flackson and Verstegen, Harry and Watson, Christine and Wesselink, Marie and Storkey, Jonathan
Title:Long-term evidence for ecological intensification as a pathway to sustainable agriculture
Series Name/Journal:Nature sustainability
Year of publishing :2022
Number of Pages:13
Publisher:NATURE PORTFOLIO
ISSN:2398-9629
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 401 Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries > Agricultural Science
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 405 Other Agricultural Sciences > Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-118269
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-118269
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1038/s41893-022-00911-x
Web of Science (WoS)000817066600003
ID Code:28668
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Soil and Environment
(S) > Dept. of Soil and Environment

(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Crop Production Ecology
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:30 Aug 2022 14:16
Metadata Last Modified:12 Sep 2022 21:19

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