Browsing by Subject "AGRICULTURE"

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  • Timberlake, Thomas P.; Cirtwill, Alyssa R.; Baral, Sushil C.; Bhusal, Daya R.; Devkota, Kedar; Harris-Fry, Helen A.; Kortsch, Susanne; Myers, Samuel S.; Roslin, Tomas; Saville, Naomi M.; Smith, Matthew R.; Strona, Giovanni; Memmott, Jane (2022)
    1. Smallholder farmers are some of the poorest and most food insecure people on Earth. Their high nutritional and economic reliance on home--grown produce makes them particularly vulnerable to environmental stressors such as pollinator loss or climate change which threaten agricultural productivity. Improving smallholder agriculture in a way that is environmentally sustainable and resilient to climate change is a key challenge of the 21st century. 2. Ecological intensification, whereby ecosystem services are managed to increase agricultural productivity, is a promising solution for smallholders. However, smallholder farms are complex socio-ecological systems with a range of social, ecological and environmental factors interacting to influence ecosystem service provisioning. To truly understand the functioning of a smallholder farm and identify the most effective management options to support household food and nutrition security, a holistic, systems-based understanding is required. 3. In this paper, we propose a network approach to understand, visualise and model the complex interactions occurring among wild species, crops and people on smallholder farms. Specifically, we demonstrate how networks may be used to (a) identify wild species with a key role in supporting, delivering or increasing the resilience of an ecosystem service; (b) quantify the value of an ecosystem service in a way that is relevant to the food and nutrition security of smallholders; and (c) understand the social interactions that influence the management of shared ecosystem services. 4. Using a case study based on data from rural Nepal, we demonstrate how this framework can be used to connect wild plants, pollinators and crops to key nutrients consumed by humans. This allows us to quantify the nutritional value of an ecosystem service and identify the wild plants and pollinators involved in its provision, as well as providing a framework to predict the effects of environmental change on human nutrition. 5. Our framework identifies mechanistic links between ecosystem services and the nutrients consumed by smallholder farmers and highlights social factors that may influence the management of these services. Applying this framework to smallholder farms in a range of socio-ecological contexts may provide new, sustainable and equitable solutions to smallholder food and nutrition security.
  • Käyhkö, Janina (2019)
    Agriculture in the Nordic countries is a sector, where farmers are facing climatic challenges first-hand with little policy guidance on climate change adaptation or climate risk management. Adaptation practices emerging at the farm scale have potentially harmful outcomes that can erode the agricultural sustainability. So far, farm scale decision-making on adaptation measures is scarcely studied, and a thorough assessment of risk perceptions underlying adaptation decision-making is required in the Nordic context to inform adaptation policy planning. In this qualitative case study, the climate risk perceptions of Nordic farmers and agricultural extension officers are examined. As a result, a typology of risk responses is presented, showing three dominant patterns within highly dynamic and contextual adaptation processes at farm scale: risk aversive, opportunity-seeking and experimental. The typology represents the variation within adaptation processes that further stress the need for participatory adaptation policy development in agriculture.
  • Helenius, Juha; Hagolani-Albov, Sophia; Koppelmäki, Kari (2020)
    Critics of modern food systems argue for the need to shift from a consolidated and concentrated, often monoculture based agro-industrial model toward diversified, post-fossil, and nutrient recycling food systems. The abundance of acute and obvious environmental problems in the agricultural sub-systems of the broader food system(s) have resulted in a focus on technological and natural scientific research into "solving" these point of production problems. Yet, there are many facets of food systems that are vital to sustainability which are not addressed even if the environmental problems were solved. In this article, we argue for agroecological symbiosis (AES) as a generic arrangement for re-configuring the primary production of food in agriculture, the processing of food, and development of a food community to work toward system-level sustainability. The guiding principle of this concept was the desire to base farming and food processing on renewable bioenergy, to close nutrient cycles, to break away from the consolidated food chain, to be more transparent and connected with consumers, and to revitalize the rural spaces where farms generally operate. Through a consistent and robust collaboration and co-creative process with transdisciplinary actors, ranging from food producers, and processers to policy actors, we designed a food system model based on networks of AES (NAES). The NAES would form place-based food networks, replacing the consolidated commodity chains. The NAES supports sustainable interactions from a biophysical and socio-cultural perspective. In this paper, we explain the AES concept, give an overview of the process of co-creating the pilot AES, and a proposal for the extension of the AES, as NAES, to create sustainable food systems. Overall, we conclude that the AES model holds potential for creating place-based food systems that further the sustainability agenda.
  • Pershina, Elizaveta; Valkonen, Jari Pekka Tapani; Kurki, Paivi; Ivanova, Ekaterina; Chirak, Evgeny; Korvigo, Ilia; Provorov, Nykolay; Andronov, Evgeny (2015)
    One of the most important challenges in agriculture is to determine the effectiveness and environmental impact of certain farming practices. The aim of present study was to determine and compare the taxonomic composition of the microbiomes established in soil following long-term exposure (14 years) to a conventional and organic farming systems (CFS and OFS accordingly). Soil from unclared forest next to the fields was used as a control. The analysis was based on RT-PCR and pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes of bacteria and archaea. The number of bacteria was significantly lower in CFS than in OFS and woodland. The highest amount of archaea was detected in woodland, whereas the amounts in CFS and OFS were lower and similar. The most common phyla in the soil microbial communities analyzed were Proteobacteria (57.9%), Acidobacteria (16.1%), Actinobacteria (7.9%), Verrucomicrobia (2.0%), Bacteroidetes (2.7%) and Firmicutes (4.8%). Woodland soil differed from croplands in the taxonomic composition of microbial phyla. Croplands were enriched with Proteobacteria (mainly the genus Pseudomonas), while Acidobacteria were detected almost exclusively in woodland soil. The most pronounced differences between the CFS and OFS microbiomes were found within the genus Pseudomonas, which significantly (p<0,05) increased its number in CFS soil compared to OFS. Other differences in microbiomes of cropping systems concerned minor taxa. A higher relative abundance of bacteria belonging to the families Oxalobacteriaceae, Koribacteriaceae, Nakamurellaceae and genera Ralstonia, Paenibacillus and Pedobacter was found in CFS as compared with OFS. On the other hand, microbiomes of OFS were enriched with proteobacteria of the family Comamonadaceae (genera Hylemonella) and Hyphomicrobiaceae, actinobacteria from the family Micrococcaceae, and bacteria of the genera Geobacter, Methylotenera, Rhizobium (mainly Rhizobium leguminosarum) and Clostridium. Thus, the fields under OFS and CFS did not differ greatly for the composition of the microbiome. These results, which were also confirmed by cluster analysis, indicated that microbial communities in the field soil do not necessarily differ largely between conventional and organic farming systems.
  • Stojanovic, Milutin (2019)
    This paper investigates practice, frameworks and philosophy in the field of ecological management, a novel integrative approach to closing the gap between ecological and economic theoretical models and ecological and economic behavior. First, I will present the current status in this emerging field and discuss management in relation to various sub-disciplines, including agroecology, circular economy, industrial ecology, and urban sustainability. This provides a basis to analyze the theoretical frameworks found in profitable, ecologically-based businesses and identify key general features that characterize this approach, notably the relationships between: an enterprise's diversity and its economic resiliency; zero waste policies and societal and environmental impacts; and affordances of the local environment and business' long-term economic viability. Finally, the philosophical issues looming behind are discussed, notably problems regarding interdisciplinarity and the relation of ethical frameworks with management. Through use of the model-centered philosophy of science to disentangle some of these conceptual problems, I argue that ecological management has a unique place in sustainable development as an independent exploratory tool for constructing and testing economic and ethical models in the Anthropocene.
  • Koppelmäki, Kari Veli; Parviainen, Tuure O; Virkkunen, Elina; Winquist, Erika; Schulte, Rogier; Helenius, Juha Pekka (2019)
    There is growing demand to produce both food and renewable energy in a sustainable manner, while avoidingcompetition between food and energy production. In our study, we investigated the potential of harnessingbiogas production into nutrient recycling in an integrated system of organic food production and food proces-sing. We used the case of Agroecological Symbiosis (AES) at Palopuro, which is a combination of three farms, abiogas plant, and a bakery, as a case to explore how biogas production using feedstocks from the farms can beused to improve nutrient cycling, and to calculate how much energy could be produced from the within-systemfeedstocks. The current system (CS) used in organic farms, and the integrated farm and food processing AESsystem, were analyzed using Substance Flow analysis. In the AES, annual nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)surpluses were projected to be reduced from 95 kg ha−1to 36 kg ha−1and from 3.4 kg ha−1to −0.5 kg ha−1 respectively, compared to the CS. Biogas produced from green manure leys as the major feedstock, produced2809 MWh a−1. This was 70% more than the energy consumed (1650 MWh a−1) in the systemand thus the AESsystem turned out to be a net energy producer. Results demonstrated the potential of biogas production toenhance the transition to bioenergy, nutrient recycling, and crop productivity in renewable localized farmingand food systems
  • Lähdesmäki, Merja Riitta; Siltaoja, Marjo; Luomala, Harri; Puska, Petteri; Kurki, Sami Petri (2019)
    Pioneers of organic farming often faced social challenges as their innovative ideas on agriculture not only encountered opposition in the conventional farming community, but led to stigmatization of organic farmers as social deviants. In this study, we examine what kind of stigma management strategies pioneer organic farmers engage with in order to cultivate an alternative positive image of themselves. Our research is based on the interviews with 14 pioneer organic farmers. Based on a qualitative analysis of the interviews, we provide a model of those strategies that the creation from a stigmatized to valued identity requires. Our study increases the understanding of the institutionalization process of organic farming by demonstrating how pioneer farmers overcame the negative attributes associated with their farmer identities while actively building a agricultural category which was different from that of conventional farming.
  • Kujala, Susanna; Hakala, Outi; Viitaharju, Leena (2022)
    Organic farming is recognised as a potential approach to achieve a more sustainable food system and promote rural development. Thus, many countries have set targets to increase the share of organic cultivated land. In Finland, the target was to increase the share of organic farming to 20% of the total area under cultivation by 2020. Although the share of organic agricultural land has gradually increased, there are still significant regional differences. The aim of our study is to identify the factors that affect these differences. Previous research has generally excluded factors such as subsidies from the analysis; therefore, this study explores the relevance of subsidies, as well as other key factors, within the context of the uneven regional distribution of organic farming in Finland. The data sources include research from the literature, official statistics, and a large survey of organic farmers. Using qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), we identify three different pathways that have led to higher organic shares of agricultural land in certain Finnish regions. The three regions with the highest organic shares utilise the first pathway, which includes a long organic heritage, a focus on dairy farming, and an important reliance on subsidies. We conclude that the regional variation in organic farming in Finland is due to a combination of different factors, rather than any single factor. Moreover, subsidies are a key factor that should be considered when reviewing the reasons for regional variations in organic farming.
  • Käyhkö, Janina; Wiréhn, Lotten; Juhola, Sirkku; Schmid Neset, Tina-Simone (2020)
    Climate change adaptation measures and practices may induce fundamental changes i.e. transformations in socio-ecological systems. Adaptation that intentionally aims for transformation is often intended to increase benefits and synergies with other broader societal development goals such as sustainability. Adaptation measures also have possible unintended negative effects that, in the case of system transformations, may be difficult to reverse. This study seeks to identify characteristic features of the adaptation processes that may result in agrifood system transformations. We introduce an integrated framework to identify these features and 'adaptation activity spaces', and apply this framework to the Nordic context, analysing stakeholder interviews that integrated serious gaming. The results show how transformations may result from adaptation measures targeted towards climate risks with an objective of changing either current practices or surrounding supportive structures. This study addresses reasons why transformative adaptation is not occurring in Nordic agri-food systems and presents novel information that may contribute to policymaking and further research needs on transformations in relation to adaptation decision-making.
  • Candy, Seona; Turner, Graham; Larsen, Kirsten; Wingrove, Kate; Steenkamp, Julia; Friel, Sharon; Lawrence, Mark (2019)
    Dietary change has been suggested as a key strategy to maintain food security, improve health and reduce environmental impacts in the face of rising populations, resource scarcity and climate change impacts, particularly in developed countries. This paper presents findings from a quantitative modelling analysis of food availability and environmental implications of shifting the current average Australian dietary pattern to one of two alternative, healthy dietary patterns, the 'healthy mixed diet', with a mixture of animal and plant foods, and the 'healthy plant-based diet', with only plant foods. Both were constructed in accordance with the Australian Dietary Guideline recommendations, and four sustainability principles: Avoiding over-consumption, reducing intake of discretionary foods, reducing animal products, and reducing food waste. It was assumed that all food was provided domestically where possible, and export of foods only occurred when there was a surplus to domestic requirements. The authors compared the impacts of each dietary pattern on direct food availability, water use, land use, greenhouse gas emissions, fuel and energy use and fertiliser use. The plant-based diet had the best overall environmental and direct food availability outcomes, however had key vulnerabilities in terms of fertiliser and cropping land availability. For the agricultural sector overall, changes in diet had little effect on environmental impact due to the amount and nature of Australian exports, indicating that changes to production methods are also necessary. Likewise, changing diets had little effect on the existing environmentally intensive Australian economy, indicating that changes to other sectors are also necessary.
  • Willoughby, Catriona; Topp, Cairistiona F. E.; Hallett, Paul D.; Stockdale, Elizabeth A.; Stoddard, Frederick L.; Walker, Robin L.; Hilton, Alex J.; Watson, Christine A. (2022)
    Sustainable farming systems provide food for humans while balancing nutrient management. Inclusion or exclusion of livestock has nutrient management implications, as livestock produce food from otherwise inedible crops and their manure is a valuable soil conditioner. However, plant-based diets are becoming more widespread due to perceived environmental benefits. We measure both food production in terms of nourishment to humans (in this study measured by protein, fat, starch and sugar production) and nutrient sustainability in terms of fertiliser use of six rotational farming systems with differences in nutrient management approaches. The arable practices included were the application of synthetic fertilisers, a range of organic amendments, incorporation of crop residues and legume cultivation. Livestock and associated products were included in some systems but excluded in others. The production of protein, fat, starch and sugar was combined with the balance of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) into an overall measure of nutrient use efficiency of human macronutrient production. Across all systems considered, N use efficiency (5-13 kg protein/kg applied N) was lower than P (84-772 kg protein/kg applied P) or K (63-2060 kg protein/kg applied K), and combining synthetic fertiliser use with organic amendment applications raised production significantly while balancing P and K management, regardless of which organic amendment was used. Legume-supported rotations without livestock produced more protein, starch and sugar per unit area than those with livestock. Nutrient balances and nutrient use efficiencies were more sensitive to management changes than purely food production. Using this approach allowed us to identify areas for improvement in food production based on the specific nutritional value of offtakes as opposed to yield overall.
  • Peltonen-Sainio, Pirjo; Laurila, Heikki; Jauhiainen, Lauri; Alakukku, Laura (2015)
  • Reyes-Garcia, Victoria; Pyhälä, Aili; Diaz-Reviriego, Isabel; Duda, Romain; Fernandez-Llamazares Onrubia, Alvaro; Gallois, Sandrine; Gueze, Maximilien; Napitupulu, Lucentezza (2016)
    Researchers have analysed whether school and local knowledge complement or substitute each other, but have paid less attention to whether those two learning models use different cognitive strategies. In this study, we use data collected among three contemporary hunter-gatherer societies with relatively low levels of exposure to schooling yet with high levels of local ecological knowledge to test the association between i) schooling and ii) local ecological knowledge and verbal working memory. Participants include 94 people (24 Baka, 25 Punan, and 45 Tsimane') from whom we collected information on 1) schooling and school related skills (i.e., literacy and numeracy), 2) local knowledge and skills related to hunting and medicinal plants, and 3) working memory. To assess working memory, we applied a multi-trial free recall using words relevant to each cultural setting. People with and without schooling have similar levels of accurate and inaccurate recall, although they differ in their strategies to organize recall: people with schooling have higher results for serial clustering, suggesting better learning with repetition, whereas people without schooling have higher results for semantic clustering, suggesting they organize recall around semantically meaningful categories. Individual levels of local ecological knowledge are not related to accurate recall or organization recall, arguably due to overall high levels of local ecological knowledge. While schooling seems to favour some organization strategies this might come at the expense of some other organization strategies.
  • Neset, Tina-Simone; Juhola, Sirkku; Wirehn, Lotten; Kayhko, Janina; Navarra, Carlo; Asplund, Therese; Glaas, Erik; Wibeck, Victoria; Linner, Bjorn-Ola (2020)
    Background. Serious games are gaining increasing prominence in environmental communication research, but their potential to form an integrated part of participatory research approaches is still strikingly understudied. This is particularly the case for applications of interactive digital formats in research on environmental challenges of high complexity, such as climate adaptation, which is a specifically suitable case as it involves complex interaction between climate systems and society, but where the response also involves trade-offs with potentially negative - maladaptive - outcomes. Intervention. This article presents the Maladaptation Game, which was designed to facilitate dialogue about potential negative outcomes of agricultural climate adaptation. Methods. We conducted test sessions with agricultural stakeholders in Finland and Sweden, and analysed quantitative and qualitative, audio-recorded and transcribed, material for opportunities and challenges related to dialogues, engagement, interactivity and experienced relevance. Results. The qualitative analysis of recorded dialogues shows that the Maladaptation Game has potential to support dialogue by challenging players to negotiate between options with negative outcomes. The gameplay itself presents opportunities in terms of creating engagement with options that provoke disagreement and debates between players, as well as interactivity, that players reflected upon as quick and easy, while challenges were related to the experienced relevance, in particular the options provided in the game, and its general framing. Conclusions. The results indicate a need for complementary approaches to this type of game but also suggest the importance of moderation when the game design is aimed at creating dialogue around a complex environmental challenge such as agricultural climate adaptation.
  • Kallio, Maarit Helena; Hogarth, Nicholas John; Moeliono, Moira; Brockhaus, Maria; Cole, Robert; Bong, Indah Waty; Wong, Grace Yee (2019)
    The rapid expansion of hybrid maize in the uplands of northern Laos is viewed by the government as meeting policy aims related to green economic development. Yet, growing evidence of negative consequences of maize expansion are emerging. Based on farmers' perceptions, we study: (1) farmers' reasons for adopting and abandoning maize, and; (2) implications of commercial maize expansion on local livelihood security and inclusiveness (food supply, income, risk coping, and ability to join maize growing), and environmental sustainability (productivity, and soil and forest quality) over time (2013 and 2016). Results show that maize has advantages in terms of labour allocation, and it provides much-needed cash income. Yet, swidden is the main food provider and an essential safety net for unforeseen risks (including maize crop failures or price fluctuations). The way that maize was produced did not meet the criteria of green economic development due to its negative effects on the environment (soil and forest degradation) and socioeconomic sustainability (household differentiation, increased economic risks, debts, and food insecurity). By providing a local perspective, this study encourages a critical reflection of the underlying assumptions and conceptualization of the green economy approach in Laos, and argues for policies and measures that consider a more holistic perspective of human wellbeing and the environment.
  • Brockhaus, Maria; Di Gregorio, Monica; Djoudi, Houria; Moeliono, Moira; Pham, Thuy Thu; Wong, Grace Yee (2021)
    Halting forest loss and achieving sustainable development in an equitable manner require state, non-state actors, and entire societies in the Global North and South to tackle deeply established patterns of inequality and power relations embedded in forest frontiers. Forest and climate governance in the Global South can provide an avenue for the transformational change needed—yet, does it? We analyse the politics and power in four cases of mitigation, adaptation, and development arenas. We use a political economy lens to explore the transformations taking place when climate policy meets specific forest frontiers in the Global South, where international, national and local institutions, interests, ideas, and information are at play. We argue that lasting and equitable outcomes will require a strong discursive shift within dominant institutions and among policy actors to redress policies that place responsibilities and burdens on local people in the Global South, while benefits from deforestation and maladaptation are taken elsewhere. What is missing is a shared transformational objective and priority to keep forests standing among all those involved from afar in the major forest frontiers in the tropics.
  • Reckling, Moritz; Bergkvist, Göran; Watson, Christine A.; Stoddard, Frederick L.; Zander, Peter M.; Walker, Robin L.; Pristeri, Aurelio; Toncea, Ion; Bachinger, Johann (2016)
    Europe's agriculture is highly specialized, dependent on external inputs and responsible for negative environmental impacts. Legume crops are grown on less than 2% of the arable land and more than 70% of the demand for protein feed supplement is imported from overseas. The integration of legumes into cropping systems has the potential to contribute to the transition to a more resource-efficient agriculture and reduce the current protein deficit. Legume crops influence the production of other crops in the rotation making it difficult to evaluate the overall agronomic effects of legumes in cropping systems. A novel assessment framework was developed and applied in five case study regions across Europe with the objective of evaluating trade-offs between economic and environmental effects of integrating legumes into cropping systems. Legumes resulted in positive and negative impacts when integrated into various cropping systems across the case studies. On average, cropping systems with legumes reduced nitrous oxide emissions by 18 and 33% and N fertilizer use by 24 and 38% in arable and forage systems, respectively, compared to systems without legumes. Nitrate leaching was similar with and without legumes in arable systems and reduced by 22% in forage systems. However, grain legumes reduced gross margins in 3 of 5 regions. Forage legumes increased gross margins in 3 of 3 regions. Among the cropping systems with legumes, systems could be identified that had both relatively high economic returns and positive environmental impacts. Thus, increasing the cultivation of legumes could lead to economic competitive cropping systems and positive environmental impacts, but achieving this aim requires the development of novel management strategies informed by the involvement of advisors and farmers.