Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Ecological Intensification: Local Innovation to Address Global Challenges
Tittonell, P.A. ; Klerkx, L.W.A. ; Baudron, F. ; Félix, G.F. ; Ruggia, A.P. ; Apeldoorn, D.F. van; Dogliotti, S. ; Mapfumo, Paul ; Rossing, W.A.H. - \ 2016
In: Sustainable Agriculture Reviews Springer (Sustainable Agriculture Reviews ) - ISBN 9783319267760 - p. 1 - 34.
The debate on future global food security is centered on increasing yields. This focus on availability of food is overshadowing access and utilization of food, and the stability of these over time. In addition, pleas for increasing yields across the board overlook the diversity of current positions and contexts in which local agriculture functions. And finally, the actual model of production is based on mainstream agricultural models in industrialized societies, in which ecological diversity and benefits from nature have been ignored or replaced by external inputs. The dependence upon external inputs should exacerbate the negative impacts on the environment and on social equity. Strategies to address future global food security thus require local innovation to increase agricultural production in a sustainable, affordable way in the poorest regions of the world, and to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and its dependence on non-renewable resources. Ecological intensification, the smart use of biodiversity-mediated ecosystem functions to support agricultural production, is portrayed as the most promising avenue to achieve these goals.

Here we first review examples of ecological intensification from around the world. Functional diversity at plant, field and regional scales is shown to hold promise for reducing pesticide need in potato production in the Netherlands, increasing beef production on the pampas and campos in south-east South-America without additional inputs, and staple crop production in various regions in Africa. Strategies range from drawing on high-tech breeding programs to mobilizing and enriching local knowledge and customs of maintaining perennials in annual production systems. Such strategies have in common that larger spatial scales of management, such as landscapes, provide important entry points in addition to the field level.

We then argue that the necessary innovation system to support transitions towards ecological intensification and to anchor positive changes should be built from a hybridization of approaches that favour simultaneously bottom-up processes, e.g. developing niches in which experiments with ecological intensification develop, and top-down processes: changing socio-technical regimes which represent conventional production systems through targeted policies. We show that there are prospects for drawing on local experiences and innovation platforms that foster co-learning and support co-evolution of ecological intensification options in specific contexts, when connected with broader change in the realm of policy systems and value chains. This would require dedicated system innovation programmes that connect local and global levels to sustainably anchor change towards ecological intensification.
Trajectories of farming systems and land use changes in Southern Ethiopia
Kebede, Y. ; Baudron, F. ; Bianchi, F.J.J.A. ; Abraham, Kristin ; Woyessa, K.L. ; Tittonell, P.A. ; Kooistra, L. - \ 2015
Multi-scale trade-off analysis of cereal residue use for livestock feeding vs. soil mulching in the Mid-Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe
Baudron, F. ; Delmotte, S. ; Corbeels, M. ; Herrera, J.M. ; Tittonell, P.A. - \ 2015
Agricultural Systems 134 (2015). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 97 - 106.
conservation agriculture - systems - nitrogen - africa - model - knowledge - village - quality - carbon - apsim
Cereal residues represent a major resource for livestock feeding during the dry season in southern Africa. When kept on the soil surface instead of feeding them to livestock, crop residues can contribute to increasing soil fertility and maintaining crop productivity in the short- and the long-term. We explored these trade-offs for smallholder cotton–sorghum farming systems in the semi-arid Zambezi Valley, northern Zimbabwe. The analysis was done using simulation models at three scales, the plot, the farm and the territory, to simulate the effects of different sorghum residue allocations to livestock feeding vs. soil mulching, in combination with different application rates of mineral nitrogen fertilizer on crop productivity. The plot-scale simulations suggest that without N fertilization soil mulching has a positive effect on cotton yields only if small quantities of sorghum residues are used as mulch (average cotton yields of 2.24 ± 0.41 kg ha-1 with a mulch of 100 kg ha-1 vs. 1.91 ± 0.29 kg ha-1 without mulch). Greater quantities of mulch have a negative effect on cotton yield without N fertilization due to N immobilization in the soil microbial biomass. With applications of 100 kg N ha-1, quantities of mulch up to 3 t ha-1 have no negative effect on cotton yield. Results at farm-scale highlight the fundamental role of livestock as a source of traction, and the need to feed a greater proportion of sorghum residues to livestock as herd and farm sizes increase. Farmers with no livestock attained maximum crop production when 100% of their sorghum residue remained in the field, as they do not have access to cattle manure. The optimum fraction of crop residue to be retained in the fields for maximum farm crop production varied for farmers with 2 or less heads of cattle (80% retention), with 2–3 heads (60–80%), with 4 or more heads (40–60%). At the scale of the entire territory, total cotton and sorghum production increased with the density of cattle, at the expense of soil mulching with crop residues. The results of our simulations suggest that (i) the optimum level of residue retention depends on the scale at which trade-offs are analyzed; (ii) the retention of all of the crop residue as mulch appears unrealistic and undesirable in farming systems that rely on livestock for traction; and (iii) crop residue mulching could be made more attractive to farmers by paying due attention to balancing C to N ratios in the soil and by promoting small-scale mechanization to replace animal traction.
A multi-scale analysis (plot, farm, landscape) of the factors controlling maize stem borer (Busseola fusca) infestation in Southern Ethiopia. Towards a multi-scale push-pull approach
Kebede, Y. ; Baudron, F. ; Bianchi, F.J.J.A. ; Tittonell, P.A. - \ 2014
Combining multi-dimensional scaling and cluster analysis to describe the diversity of rural households
Pacini, G.C. ; Colucci, D. ; Baudron, F. ; Righi, E. ; Corbeels, M. ; Tittonell, P.A. ; Stefanini, F.M. - \ 2014
Experimental Agriculture 50 (2014)3. - ISSN 0014-4797 - p. 376 - 397.
farms - management - heterogeneity - assemblages - typologies - indicators - region - spain
Capturing agricultural heterogeneity through the analysis of farm typologies is key with regard to the design of sustainable policies and to the adoptability of new technologies. An optimal balance needs to be found between, on the one hand, the requirement to consider local stakeholder and expert knowledge for typology identification, and on the other hand, the need to identify typologies that transcend the local boundaries of single studies and can be used for comparisons. In this paper, we propose a method that supports expert-driven identification of farm typologies, while at the same time keeping the characteristics of objectivity and reproducibility of statistical tools. The method uses a range of multivariate analysis techniques and it is based on a protocol that favours the use of stakeholder and expert knowledge in the process of typology identification by means of visualization of farm groups and relevant statistics. Results of two studies in Zimbabwe and Kenya are shown. Findings obtained with the method proposed are contrasted with those obtained through a parametric method based on latent class analysis. The method is compared to alternative approaches with regard to stakeholder-orientation and statistical reliability.
Agriculture and nature: Trouble and strife?
Baudron, F. ; Giller, K.E. - \ 2014
Biological Conservation 170 (2014). - ISSN 0006-3207 - p. 232 - 245.
soil fertility management - agri-environment schemes - land-use change - biodiversity conservation - habitat fragmentation - food-production - tropical conservation - farmland biodiversity - protect biodiversity - organic agriculture
Global demand for agricultural products is expected to double in the next decades, putting tremendous pressure on agriculture to produce more. The bulk of this increase will come from developing countries, which host most biodiversity-rich areas of the planet. Whilst most biodiversity is found in production landscapes shared with people, where agriculture represents an increasing threat, international conservation organisations continue to focus on the maintenance and expansion of the network of protected areas. When conservation organisations partner with agricultural programmes, they promote low input, extensive agriculture. Combined with the focus on protected areas, this may exacerbate rather than mitigate conflicts between biodiversity conservation and agricultural production. Two models have been proposed to increase agricultural production whilst minimising the negative consequences for biodiversity: ‘land sparing’ and ‘land sharing’. Although often polarized in debates, both are realistic solutions, depending on the local circumstances. We propose a number of criteria that could guide the choice towards one or the other. We conclude that general principles to be considered in both land sparing and land sharing are: managing spillover effects, maintaining resilience and ecosystem services, accounting for landscape structure, reducing losses and wastes, improving access to agricultural products in developing countries and changing consumption patterns in developed countries, and developing supportive markets and policies.
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