Agricultural Sciences

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 41
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    Increasing crop rotational diversity can enhance cereal yields
    (Springer Nature, 2023-03-23) Smith, Monique E.; Vico, Guilia; Costa, Alessio; Bowles, Timothy; Gaudin, Amélie C. M.; Hallin, Sara; Watson, Christine A.; Alarcòn, Remedios; Berti, Antonio; Blecharczyk, Andrzej; Calderon, Francisco J.; Culman, Steve; Deen, William; Drury, Craig F.; Garcia y. Garcia, Axel; García-Díaz, Andrés; Plaza, Eva Hernández; Jonczyk, Krzysztof; Jäck, Ortrud; Lehman, R. Michael; Montemurro, Francesco; Morari, Francesco; Onofri, Andrea; Osbourne, Shannon L.; Pasamón, José Luis Tenorio; Sandstöm, Boël; Santín-Montanyá, Inés; Sawinska, Zuzanna; Schmer, Marty R.; Stalenga, Jaroslaw; Strock, Jeffrey; Tei, Francesco; Topp, Cairistiona F. E.; Ventrella, Domenico; Walker, Robin L.; Bommarco, Riccardo
    Diversifying agriculture by rotating a greater number of crop species in sequence is a promising practice to reduce negative impacts of crop production on the environment and maintain yields. However, it is unclear to what extent cereal yields change with crop rotation diversity and external nitrogen fertilization level over time, and which functional groups of crops provide the most yield benefit. Here, using grain yield data of small grain cereals and maize from 32 long-term (10–63 years) experiments across Europe and North America, we show that crop rotational diversity, measured as crop species diversity and functional richness, enhanced grain yields. This yield benefit increased over time. Only the yields of winter-sown small grain cereals showed a decline at the highest level of species diversity. Diversification was beneficial to all cereals with a low external nitrogen input, particularly maize, enabling a lower dependence on nitrogen fertilisers and ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen pollution. The results suggest that increasing crop functional richness rather than species diversity can be a strategy for supporting grain yields across many environments.
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    Manure amendment can reduce rice yield loss under extreme temperatures
    (Springer Nature, 2022-06-27) Zhu, Xiangcheng; Chen, Jin; Huang, Shan; Li, Weiwei; Penuelas, Josep; Chen, Ji; Zhou, Feng; Zhang, Weijan; Li, Ganghua; Liu, Zhenghui; Ding, Yanfeng; Wang, Songhan; van Groenigen, Kees Jan; Jiang, Yu
    Extreme temperatures are predicted to become increasingly common due to climate change, threatening the sustainability and profitability of global rice production. Manure amendment is a common agricultural practice to improve soil fertility and increase crop yields, but whether this practice modulates the effect of extreme temperatures on crop yield is unclear. Here we show through a series of experiments and meta-analysis that long-term manure amendment reduces losses of rice yield due to extreme temperatures. We propose that by increasing soil fertility, manure amendment increased net photosynthetic rate and plant physiological resistance to extreme temperatures. Without considering the impact of other global change factors, we estimate that manure amendment could potentially reduce global losses of rice yield due to extreme temperatures from 33.6 to 25.1%. Thus, our findings indicate that manure amendment may play a key role in improving food security in a changing climate.
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    Unearthing the entangled roots of urban agriculture
    (Springer Nature, 2020-11-24) London, Jonathan K.; Cutts, Bethany B.; Schwartz, Kirsten; Schmidt, Li; Cadenasso, Mary L.
    This study examines urban agriculture (UA) in Sacramento, California (USA), the nation's self-branded “Farm-to-Fork Capital,” in order to highlight UA’s distinct yet entangled roots. The study is based on 24 interviews with a diverse array of UA leaders, conducted as part of a five-year transdisciplinary study of UA in Sacramento. In it, we unearth three primary “taproots” of UA projects, each with its own historical legacies, normative visions, and racial dynamics. In particular, we examine UA projects with “justice taproots,” “health taproots,” and “market taproots.” We use this analysis to understand how different kinds of UA projects are embedded in racial capitalism in ways that transform relationships between people, the city, and food systems. Unearthing these entangled roots helps illuminate UA’s underlying politics, showing how these roots grow in both competitive and symbiotic ways within the soil matrix of racial capitalism. We argue that these roots interact differently with racial capitalism, creating disparities in their growth trajectories. In particular, UA projects associated with the justice taproot are historically underrepresented and undervalued. However, we argue that there are some prospects for building alliances between the UA movement’s three roots, and that these are both promising and problematic.
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    Effects of development interventions on biocultural diversity: a case study from the Pamir Mountains
    (Springer Nature, 2019-12-23) Haider, L. Jamila; Boonstra, Wiebren J.; Akobirshoeva, Anzurat; Schlüter, Maja
    The relationship between nature and culture in biocultural landscapes runs deep, where everyday practices and rituals have coevolved with the environment over millennia. Such tightly intertwined social–ecological systems are, however, often in the world’s poorest regions and commonly subject to development interventions which effect biocultural diversity. This paper investigates the social and ecological implications of an introduced wheat seed in the Pamir Mountains. We examine contrasting responses to the intervention through participatory observation of food practices around a New Year ritual, and interviews in two communities. Our results show how one community fostered biocultural diversity, while the other did not, resulting in divergent processes of social and cultural change. In the former, ritual is practiced with traditional seed varieties, involving reciprocal exchange and is characterised by little outmigration of youth. In contrast, the second community celebrates the ritual with replaced store-bought ingredients, no longer cultivates any grain crops and where circular migration to Russia is the main livelihood strategy. Coevolution as an analytical lens enables us to understand these divergent pathways as processes of dynamically changing social–ecological relations. The paper suggests that a deeper understanding of social–ecological relationships in landscapes offers a dynamic and process-oriented understanding of development interventions and can help identify endogenous responses to local, regional and global change—thereby empowering more appropriate and effective development pathways.
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    The abandonment of maize landraces over the last 50 years in Morelos, Mexico: a tracing study using a multi-level perspective
    (Springer Nature, 2019-03-27) McLean‑Rodríguez, Francis Denisse; Camacho‑Villa, Tania Carolina; Almekinders, Conny J. M.; Pè, Mario Enrico; Dell’Acqua, Matteo; Costich, Denise E.
    Understanding the causes of maize landrace loss in farmers’ field is essential to design effective conservation strategies. These strategies are necessary to ensure that genetic resources are available in the future. Previous studies have shown that this loss is caused by multiple factors. In this longitudinal study, we used a collection of 93 maize landrace accessions from Morelos, Mexico, and stored at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) Maize Germplasm Bank, to trace back to the original 66 donor families after 50 years and explore the causes for why they abandoned or conserved their seed lots. We used an actor-centered approach, based on interviews and focus group discussions. We adopt a Multi-Level Perspective framework to examine loss as a process, accommodating multiple causes and the interactions among them. We found that the importance of maize landrace cultivation had diminished over the last 50 years in the study area. By 2017, 13 families had conserved a total of 14 seed lots directly descended from the 1967 collection. Focus group participants identified 60 accessions that could still be found in the surrounding municipalities. Our findings showed that multiple interconnected changes in maize cultivation technologies, as well as in maize markets, other crop markets, agricultural and land policies, cultural preferences, urbanization and climate change, have created an unfavorable environment for the conservation of maize landraces. Many of these processes were location- and landrace-specific, and often led to landrace abandonment during the shift from one farmer generation to the next.