Author: Noel Russell Date: 17 June 2010 Journal article
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Building Capacity to Investigate the Potential Role of Sustainable Agricultural Intensification in AgroEcological System
Given an ever-growing population, the global agro-ecosystem is required to deliver increasing levels of food production from a non-expanding stock of land, water and other natural resources. While this clearly implies increasing the productivity of finite resources, there are widely differing views as to how this may be achieved without degrading or destroying the bio-ecological foundations on which agricultural productivity depends. In the absence of exogenous growth in productivity arising from technical change, this implies a need to develop strategies for sustainable intensification. Such sustainability represents one possible future option for land use in a UK and European context.
This investigation is a preliminary empirical study of three areas representing three major agro-ecosystems (upland agriculture, lowland grassland and intensive arable farming). The study sets out to delineate the habitat types in each area and to determine how dynamic intensification processes might (or might not) be sustainably supported. It is establishing what data are available to describe these economic and ecological processes and exploring how they might be used to construct and test alternative models of the agro-ecological systems. In the process, the extent to which additional data collection is warranted will be clarified.
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