Wednesday 1 April 2020

The hidden potential of urban horticulture (report)

The hidden potential of urban horticulture

Urban areas offer considerable potential for horticultural food production, but questions remain about the availability of space to expand urban horticulture and how to sustainably integrate it into the existing urban fabric. We explore this through a case study which shows that, for a UK city, the space potentially available equates to more than four times the current per capita footprint of commercial horticulture.

Friday 20 December 2019

Agroecology for peace building (report)

Agroecology as a Practice-Based Tool for Peacebuilding in Fragile Environments? Three Stories from Rural Zimbabwe

Three case studies are presented, drawing on primary data from participatory action research with farming communities in Zimbabwe that also consider the differential attitudes and experiences of agroecological and conventional farmers. The study finds that, where agroecological farmers were exposed to more plural ways of thinking, being and acting together, levels of autonomy from coercive structures were increasing, as were both a sense of efficacy and optimism to effect social–ecological change. In these cases, agroecological farmers were increasingly able to envisage a future together shaped by collective endeavour, evidenced by changing attitudes and relationships with one another and their environment. The paper explores the extent to which farmers in each location were able to instrumentalise resilience and agency for everyday peace, and the variances found according to historical context and local power dynamics that represent barriers to change.

Agroecology and climate resilience (report)

The contribution of agroecological approaches to realizing climate-resilient agriculture

It is generally accepted that agriculture is a major driver of climate change as well as being acutely challenged to adapt to its effects. Agroecological approaches involve the application of integrated ecological, economic and social principles to the transition of smallholder farming systems, towards greater resilience. This involves adapting 13 generic agroecological principles to local circumstances. Agroecology comprises transdisciplinary science; sustainable agricultural practices; and, social movements that are precipitating widespread behaviour change. Agroecological principles map closely to principles of adaptation with the notable exception that while they often exhibit resilience benefits, these are incidental rather than representing an explicit response to climate signals.
Agroecology manifests at field, farm and landscape scales, for which different metrics of agricultural performance are relevant in order for agroecological practices to be fairly judged against alternatives.

2nd Agroecology Forum Europe (report)

Second Agroecology Europe Forum

Together with local farmers, universities, social movement organisations and non-governmental organisations, Agroecology Europe organised the second Agroecology Europe Forum to support exchange, reflection and bottom-up contributions. It took place on 26-28 September 2019, on the island of Crete, Greece. The Forum provided a wide range of examples towards achieving agroecological transitions in farms, universities and research institutes, via social movements and cooperatives, through establishing bio-districts through agroecological local policies, by achieving agroecological labels and by empowering youth, women and farmers. Permaculture was represented at the Forum by Dr. Naomi van der Velden of the Permaculture Association Britain. 

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Crop-livestock agroforestry systems (#journal)

Integrated crop–livestock systems with agroforestry to improve organic animal farming

The livestock sector has to satisfy the growing demand for animal products while reducing its environmental impact, in face of great climatic and market changes. For this reason, there is a necessity to redesign livestock production systems in order to make them more sustainable and adaptable. IFS (crop-livestock-trees) could be a viable option to achieve the above mentioned global goals. Moreover, the implementation of conservation agriculture practices proved to improve crop-livestock beneficial effects. This review paper aims at highlighting the scientific knowledge existing regarding the advantages and limitations of crop-livestock systems including agroforestry and conservation agriculture practices. This shows that integration can be a positive approach to achieve farm’s sustainability.

Polycultures store more soil carbon (journal)

Microbial spatial footprint as a driver of soil carbon stabilization
Increasing the potential of soil to store carbon (C) is an acknowledged strategy for capturing atmospheric CO2. Yet experimental evidence often fails to support anticipated C gains. Here, authors demonstrate for the first time that plant-stimulated soil pore formation appears to be a major, hitherto unrecognized, determinant of whether new C inputs are stored or lost. Unlike monocultures, diverse plant communities favor the development of 30–150 ┬Ám pores. Such pores are the micro-environments associated with higher enzyme activities, and greater abundance of such pores translates into a greater spatial footprint that microorganisms make on the soil and consequently soil C storage capacity.

The potential of forest gardens (#journal)

Exploring the potential of edible forest gardens: experiences from a participatory action research project in Sweden

To meet the environmental challenges that are presently confronting society, the narrow focus on agricultural production needs to be altered to one that places equal value on the generation of crucial ecosystem services. Current research shows that perennial intercropping systems such as agroforestry may be a feasible alternative. Based on studies during the establishment of edible forest gardens in 12 participating farms in Sweden, this paper explores the potential of utilizing multi-strata designs for food production in temperate, high-income countries. Design and species composition of such gardens, types of food they provide, and how they would best fit into the present landscape are discussed. Large knowledge gaps concerning potential production, social and economic benefits, and agronomic issues were identified.