Browsing by Subject "agroecology"

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  • Resler, Megan; Hagolani-Albov, Sophia (2021)
    Food sovereignty has emerged as a leading sense-making framework for the nascent conceptualization of an agroecological urbanism – a radically new paradigm for urbanization, grounded in political agroecology. At present, discourses like food democracy are often isolated from food sovereignty and agroecology in the urban context, potentially resulting in missed opportunities for creating holistic, inclusive, and scalable transformation in the urban food system. This study used data from existing municipal food policy in Seattle, U.S.A. and interviews with Seattle community gardeners to probe resident practices and policy recommendations in relation to the conceptual frameworks of food sovereignty and food democracy. The findings identify two key dimensions of food democracy as notably absent from the food sovereignty framework within this contextualized landscape, including mechanisms that enable vertical deliberation between food system stakeholders and opportunities for strengthened self and community efficacy – thus, exposing a potential gap in the ongoing development of an actionable agroecological urbanism. Working in tandem within the frame of agroecological urbanism, the food sovereignty and food democracy frameworks may support transition from unsustainable growth patterns and enable agroecological massification in an urban Global North context.
  • 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.
  • Kärkkäinen, Jani (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    This study investigates the effects of oil palm smallholding, wealth, and ecosystem services produced by oil palm dominated agroecosystem in the villages of Tanjung Bering and Betung in Sumatra, Indonesia in 2008. The cultivation of oil palm has many environmental and socio-economic impacts. In particular, indigenous peoples are vulnerable stakeholders between the expanding oil palm plantations. Oil palm industry has sought to find sustainable models for palm oil production: the inclusion of indigenous peoples to oil palm development is an essential part of this. The purpose of the study is to chart the situation and to investigate the impact of the oil palm smallholding for the well-being of local indigenous people, and to provide information for the sustainable decision-making. The study is based on household interviews in the area of the Petalangan ethnic group. The interviews were added to a relational database, which was used to provide variables on ecosystem services, economy and well-being for statistical analysis. Statistical analysis was carried out mainly by cross-tabulating the mentioned variables with wealth and the oil palm smallholding status, significance has been defined with the Pearson’s khii-test. Interpretation and analysis of the results has been made in the framework of ecosystem services by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Oil palm smallholding highly significantly increased households’ income, and wealth increased highly significantly household’s well-being. The fragmented oil palm dominated agroecosystem was still providing ecosystem services to households. The wealth reduced households’ dependency on most ecosystem services as well as substituted many of them. It is concluded based on this study that in the oil palm dominated agroecosystem, oil palm smallholding and higher income affects very favourable to the households’ well-being, and vice versa non-oil-palm-smallholding and poverty predicts ill-being.
  • Resler, Megan (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    Recent trends in urbanization have contributed to re-defining urban demand and rural supply across the global agricultural landscape. These dynamic interactions occur within both formal agricultural economies, as well as within informal networks of non-commodity exchange. This research identifies on-the-ground systems of non-commodity exchange practiced in urban agroecology, and explores the implications of these systems of exchange upon the demand for changes in the ways humans relate to food, and the governing structures determining their distribution. Framed by the exploration of urban agroecology as a science, practice and social movement, this research probes exchange pathways across two city-sponsored urban agriculture networks: The P-Patch Community Gardening Program in Seattle, United States and the Allotment Gardens of Helsinki, Finland. As both garden networks are embedded within each city’s respective development plan, these sites offer the distinct benefit of probing civic responsibility and active engagement within civic agriculture outside of the discourse of food production for self as a political act. I employ an interdisciplinary approach to this research methodology which draws from the disciplines of planning, human geography, sociology, and agroecology. Data was collected and analyzed utilizing qualitative methods including semi-structured interview and ethnographic photography. I argue that the identification of these non-commodity exchange systems, and the fragmented urban place-based knowledge pockets from which they emerged, can be utilized to derive principals useful in the design and management of sustainable urban agroecosystems.
  • Jensen, Erik Steen; Araújo, Susana S.; Stoddard, Frederick Lothrop; Porqueddu, Claudio (2017)
    Recent developments within legume agronomy were presented in two sessions. An important current focus in legume agronomy is on intercrops or crop mixtures of legumes and grasses / cereals, especially among European scientists. The quantification of legume services in cropping systems and participatory research approaches are other issues gaining interest.
  • Syvänen, Marko (Helsingfors universitet, 2011)
    Besides farms’ main plant and animal products, meat and bone meal (MBM) represents agroecosystems’ biggest outward flow of nutriuents. MBM contains plenty of the main plant nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium (N ~8%, P ~5%, Ca usually ~10-15%, depending of the amount of bone matter), plus a little potassium (~1% or less). MBM has been proven efficient fertilizer on many plants, and it is also allowed for use in organic farming in EU. The most notable risk of MBM use relates to TSE-diseases (BSE for cattle, scrapie for sheeps and goats, and vCJD for humans). Its feed usage has been restricted in many countries since the BSE-crisis emerged in 1980’s. The rise of BSE was attributed to feeding cattle with MBM of cattle origin. Also feeding MBM to fur animals might pose a TSE-risk. However, assessing on the base of the studies included in this thesis, the TSE-risk from fertilizer use of MBM appears to be rather small. Still, a prerequisite of this is that all appropriate precautions are followed in the production and handling of MBM as well as when using it. By increasing the fertilizer use of MBM we would be able to considerably improve the nutrient cycle of phosphorus and other nutrients in our food systems. MBM is a renewable resource. The fertilizer use of MBM would also diminish the dependency on non-renewable phosphorus-rich rocks, that are commonly used in fertilizers today. MBM-fertlization was compared with mineral fertilizers in sugar beet field trials located in Southwestern Finland in the years 2008 and 2009. The cultivars used were ‘Jesper’ in 2008 and ‘Lincoln’ in 2009. The MBM source was Honkajoki Oy’s Viljo Yleislannoite 8-4-3, of which 10% was a combination of potassium sulphate fertilizer (42% K, 18% S) and plant-based side products. Viljotrials of 2009 also included added potassium sulphate to cover the nutrient requirements of sugar beet (60 kg K/ha). The plain Viljo-fertilizer produced yields that were significantly lower than control, but still above the Finnish average yields. When used in combination with mineral fertilizer (10-25% of the N content) the Viljo-trials produced yields close to the level of mineral fertilizers. The MBM-fertilization had a positive effect on beet quality in 2008 (measured in amino-N, K, and Na-concentrations), but in 2009 this effect was not present. Also, in 2008 one of the combinations (Viljo77%+NK1) produced a significantly higher sugar concentrations than the control. The sugar concentrations in 2009 didn’t differ significantly between fertilizers used but were excellent in all trials. These field trials indicate that MBM supplemented with potassium suphate has good potential for use as a fertilizer for sugar beet in Finnish conditions.
  • Helenius, Juha (2022)
  • Tammeorg, Priit (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Biochar is a porous carbonaceous solid material produced by pyrolysis. Application of biochar is considered as an efficient way of carbon (C) sequestration since the C in biochar is relatively resistant to microbial degradation. Furthermore, previous research in (sub-) tropical conditions suggests that it may enhance soil fertility and the yields of agricultural crops. To target the lack of knowledge about the effects of biochar in the boreal zone, softwood biochar was added to two boreal soils (a fertile Stagnosol and a nutrient deficient Umbrisol) in laboratory and field experiments in southern Finland in 2010 2012. The study focused on the effects of biochar on 1) the mineralisation of nitrogen (N) of organic fertilisers, 2) the physicochemical properties of soil, 3) earthworm abundance and behaviour, and 4) the yield formation of wheat, turnip rape and faba bean. Biochar application to soils caused an initial reduction in N availability, probably by N immobilisation due to increased microbial biomass. The effect was greater when the biochar application was combined with an organic fertiliser with a high C:N ratio than when one with a low C:N ratio was used. In the field experiments, however, the N immobilisation was moderate, as the N uptake of crops was not affected. Furthermore, signs of turnover of microbial biomass in the second year were seen in the Umbrisol field. Biochar application increased the contents of C and exchangeable potassium (K) in the soil, but had no significant effects on other soil chemical properties within the first two to three years of the experiments. Biochar effects on soil physical properties varied. In the Stagnosol with a sandy clay loam texture, the application slightly increased topsoil moisture content, but did not affect soil water retention or porosity. In the Umbrisol with a loamy sand texture, biochar increased the plant-available water content of the topsoil in the first year and soil porosity in the second year but did not affect the moisture content of the soil. In the laboratory, biochar did not affect the habitat choice of earthworms when the test lasted for 2 days, but after 2 weeks, biochar-treated soil was avoided. The avoidance effect was associated with a slight decline in soil water potential. This avoidance effect was not observed under field conditions, where there was even an indication of increased abundance and biomass of earthworms in biochar-amended soil. The effects of biochar application on the plant growth dynamics and N uptake of turnip rape and wheat were not significant, but the enhanced accumulation of biomass and N uptake of faba bean during the initial N immobilisation phase may be related to possibly enhanced biological N fixation. In dry years, biochar addition affected the yield formation of crops, as it was associated with decreased plant density and increased number of reproductive units (pods, siliques or ears) per plant. The latter was attributed to two additive mechanisms, the compensation for decreased plant density and relieved moderate water deficit. Biochar did not however affect the crop yield significantly, irrespective of the fertiliser treatments or the soil types studied. It can be concluded that the application of biochar in combination with inorganic fertilisers or with meat bone meal to boreal soils with near neutral pH and relatively high original SOM content may reduce deficits in both K and water, but should not be expected to significantly affect yields of faba bean, turnip rape and wheat during the first few years. As added biochar had no negative effects on crop yields or earthworms, it can be suggested that softwood biochar application is an agriculturally safe way of sequestering C. Considering the longevity of biochar in soils, future studies are needed for monitoring the long-term effects of biochar under field conditions.
  • Ritola, Roosa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    The aim of this Thesis was to analyze Finnish food policy from a sustainability point of view. Changing operational environment, both globally and nationally, place food systems under a variety of economic, socio-cultural and ecological pressures. In addition to meet the basic objectives, such as ensuring food security, food systems are expected to fulfill a number of other goals. The drivers and goals, as well as means to food system change are defined in food policy. Considering the ecological, economic and sociocultural dimensions of sustainability in the food system analysis can also be viewed as an agroecological approach. A content analysis, using Atlas TI software was done for three most recent and topical Finnish food policy documents: Food2030 - government report on food policy, and the government programs for local and - organic food sectors. The food policy documents were analyzed with the following research questions in mind: how well is the need for systemic change recognized in the Finnish food policy; what are the main drivers for change; how are different dimensions of sustainability taken into account; is the change anticipated as gradual improvements to the current food system or are there any references suggesting radically reformed food system? The recently renewed Finnish food policy is specifically drafted with the current and forecasted changes in the operational environment in mind. The main drivers were mainly identified as sociocultural trends such as globalization, urbanization and changes in consumer behavior. The economic drivers, especially the competitiveness and export orientation of the food sector emerged as important goals for the future. The ecological dimension to food system reform gave the lowest share in all three categories (drivers, means and goals). A change in a complex system such as a food system takes place by affecting one partof the system at a time. The current Finnish food policy does not present radical changes or radical means to change the current system. However system-level changes can often be identified only afterwards.
  • Seppänen, Ari-Matti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    Circular economy and nutrient recycling have become central aims of agricultural development domestically and internationally. In Finland the enhancement of nutrient recycling is hindered by the areal dividedness of agricultural production. The high animal densities in West-Finland produce more manure nutrients than the area can sustain whereas in the South-Finland the Uusimaa region is dependent on mineral phosphorus fertilizers as there isn’t enough manures in the region. Also the unutilized grasslands have potential for increasing efficient silage and energy grass production, which enables nutrient recycling through biogas or livestock production. In this thesis the agricultural production structure of Uusimaa is approached from the perspective of the regional feed production and the feed production potential as an enabler of more balanced regional crop-livestock production. Simultaneously the regional nutrient recycling and livestock product self-sufficiency enhances. The method used is MFA (material flow analysis) which is applied to the case study area of the Mäntsälä municipality with results scaled up to the rural areas of Uusimaa County. The materials were based on annual statistics of Finland’s production structure and agricultural production. The Mäntsälä municipality’s nutrient balance of nitrogen and phosphorus, the average yields and self-sufficiency in livestock products were analyzed. Three alternative scenarios were introduced to analyze the possibilities of increasing livestock production, enhancing nutrient recycling and attaining livestock product self-sufficiency. The case area has remarkable potential for livestock production increases. With these increases the cereal dominated region gains the possibility of replacing a majority of mineral fertilizers with the manures. Simultaneously, the municipal production can come close to meeting the municipal consumption. These additions of livestock can be carried out without changes in crop areas, but then the livestock production would depend on imported mineral and protein feeds. Also the increases in protein feed needs can be met by transforming the needed areas from cereal areas. In addition the unutilized grasses provide a potential for enhancing the areal silage production. The case study area can’t meet the areal consumption of livestock produce without using the expanse of the present cereal cultivation areas. The results suggest that Uusimaa and its surrounding rural regions have great potential for increasing livestock production and enhancing the nutrient recirculation, whereas the regional consumption cannot be met with the regional production. To enhance sustainable agroecosystem in Finland changes in production structure, way of production and the consumption patterns of citizens are needed.
  • Parviainen, Tuure; Helenius, Juha (2020)
    In Finland, while total agricultural production has remained relatively constant, nutrient input from industrial mineral fertilizers has declined over the past 20 years, which has been the target of environmental policies due to eutrophication risks. From 1996 to 2014, the use of nitrogen (N) declined by 18%, phosphorus (P) by 49%, and potassium (K) by 49%. However, at the same time, the international agricultural products trade has increased dramatically by mass (58%), and Finland has increased imports of food and feed products, such as, protein feeds, vegetables, and fruits. We analyzed the nutrient contents of foreign trade from 1996 to 2014 by using a substance flow analysis. We discovered that, when comparing nutrients contained in trade to the use of fertilizers, the trade of food and feed accounts for more than one-third (40%) of the fertilizer input to the Finnish food system. In 2014, 53 Gg of N, 8 Gg of P, and 15 Gg of K were imported due to trade, equating to 35%, 70%, and 45%, respectively, compared to the use of fertilizers in the food system. Declines in fertilizer inputs to crop production are partially offset by flows of plant nutrients from feed imports. In formulating agri-environmental policies targeting nutrient loading, more attention should be paid to national imports–export balances and, especially, to the spatial distribution of flows in feed trade.