Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
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Published By Cambridge University Press

1742-1713, 1742-1705

Gumataw Kifle Abebe ◽  
Andrew Traboulsi ◽  
Mirella Aoun

The future of food value chains has increasingly been reliant on the wider adoption of sustainable farming practices that include organic agriculture. Organic farming in developed countries is standardized and occupies a niche in agro-food systems. However, such a standard model, when transferred to developing countries, faces difficulty in implementation. This study aims to investigate the factors affecting the expansion of organic agriculture in Lebanon, a Middle Eastern context, and analyzes the economic performance of organic tomato among smallholder farmers. Accordingly, the study was able to determine the production costs, map the organic value chain and assess the profitability of organic tomato by comparing it with the conventional tomato in the same value chain. The study finds organic farming being increasingly expensive primarily due to the inherently high cost of production in Lebanon and the inefficient organization of the organic value chain. As a result, we suggest a blended approach of organic farming with other models, in particular agro-tourism, as a local solution to the sustainability of organic farming in developing countries with limited resources (land and labor) and characterized by long marketing channels. In countries such as Lebanon, a country endowed with rich cultural heritage and natural and beautiful landscapes, the agro-tourism model can harness organic farming and tourism activities. We also propose the adoption of local collective guarantee systems for organic production as a way to alleviate the costs of third-party auditing in Lebanon.

Paula Lorenzo ◽  
Lorena Álvarez-Iglesias ◽  
Luís González ◽  
Pedro Revilla

Abstract Acacia dealbata Link is one of the main invasive species in southwestern Europe and a resource with potential value for agriculture. Our objective was to assess the value of A. dealbata vegetative aerial biomass used as green manure and as a tool for weed control in maize crops through three sequential experiments. In 2017, an experiment was carried out with acacia green manure vs inorganic fertilization of pots sown with a field corn and a sweet corn hybrid with strong and weak nutrient demand, respectively. Nutrients were not released from acacia green manure at an appropriate timing, and maize suffered nutrient deficit. In 2018, a pot experiment was made outdoors incorporating acacia green manure at different times before maize sowing, and we found that a 4-month period was required for maximum nutrient release from acacia green manure. In 2019, an early and a late-field experiments were performed by incorporating acacia green manure 4 months before maize sowing. Physiological and agronomic data were recorded in maize, along with soil data, for all years, and weed data the last year. Altogether, most effects and interactions between genotype or environment and fertilization treatment were not significant, and some deficiencies caused by acacia green manure fertilization depend on genotype and environment. Incorporation of acacia green manure 4 months before maize sowing partially controlled weeds and replaced inorganic fertilization. However, deficiencies should be corrected with additional weed control practices and fertilization treatments, according to the nutrient demand of the crop and the soil environment.

Greta G. Gramig ◽  
Samantha K. Hogstad ◽  
Patrick M. Carr

Abstract During 2015 and 2016, studies were conducted at Absaraka and Dickinson, North Dakota to evaluate the impacts of hemp (applied at 1156 m3 ha−1) and commercial paper mulch, as well as soil-applied biochar (applied at 11.25 m3 ha−1), on weed suppression and strawberry growth during the establishment year, and on weed suppression and strawberry yield during the production year, in a matted row production (MRP) system. During 2015, biochar influenced dry weed biomass only within the hemp mulch, with slightly more weed biomass associated with biochar application compared to zero biochar (3.1 vs 0.4 g m−2), suggesting that biochar may have increased weed germination and/or emergence from beneath hemp mulch. Biochar application also slightly increased soil pH, from 6.9 in non-amended soil to 7.0 in amended soil. Strawberry runner number during 2015 was greater in association with hemp or paper mulch compared to zero mulch (4.5 and 4.9 vs 2.4 runners plant −1, respectively). This result mirrored a similar differential in per berry mass across sites (7.6 and 7.4 vs 6.2 g berry −1 for hemp mulch, paper mulch and zero mulch, respectively). These results may be related to hemp and paper mulch reducing maximum soil temperatures during summer 2015. During the establishment year, both hemp and paper mulch suppressed weeds well compared to zero mulch, although at Absaraka hemp mulch provided slightly better weed suppression than paper mulch. During the production year, both mulches continued to suppress weeds compared to zero mulch at Dickinson. However, at Absaraka, only hemp mulch provided weed suppression compared to zero mulch, possibly because of faster paper degradation caused by greater numbers of large precipitation events and greater relative humidity at Absaraka compared to Dickinson. Weeds were removed from plots during 2015 to allow separation of weed suppression from other possible mulch impacts; therefore, yield data do not reveal striking differences among mulch treatments. Because previous research has demonstrated the impact of weed management during the establishment of strawberries in a matted row system, we concluded that hemp mulch may provide more durable weed suppression compared to paper mulch, which would increase strawberry yield protection in an MRP system. Material cost may be an issue for implementing hemp mulch, as hemp hurd cost was 25 times paper mulch at the application rates used in this study. However, hemp mulch could still be a beneficial option, especially for organic strawberry growers desiring a renewable and environmentally sound replacement for plastic mulch who are able to find affordable local sources of this material.

Margaret Beetstra ◽  
Robyn Wilson ◽  
Eric Toman

Abstract Across the Midwest, substantial funding and personnel time have been allocated to encourage farmers to adopt a wide range of conservation practices but adoption rates for many of these practices remain low. Prior research focuses largely on the influence of individual-level factors (e.g., beliefs, attitudes) on conservation practice adoption rather than on contextual factors (e.g., seasons) that might also play a role. In the present study, we considered seasonal variation and its potential influence on farmer cover crop decision-making. We first established how farmer temporal and financial resources fluctuate across the year and then compared the annual agricultural decision and cover crop decision calendars. We also considered farmer cover crop perceptions and likely behaviors. To study this, we surveyed the same Midwestern farmers in the spring, summer and winter within a 12-month period. Results indicated that farmers were generally the least busy and the most financially comfortable in the winter months. Moreover, farmers perceived the benefits of cover crops differently throughout the year. These results indicate that seasonality can be a confounding factor which should be considered when designing and conducting research and farmer engagement. As researchers, it is our responsibility to understand the specific calendar experienced by our sample and how that may influence responses so we can examine theory-supported factors of interest rather than seasonality as a driver of farmer responses. As practitioners, it is important to use research findings to engage with farmers about conservation in a way that prioritizes communicating about the most salient aspects of the practice at the time of year when farmers will be most receptive.

Maryse Bourgault ◽  
Samuel A. Wyffels ◽  
Julia M. Dafoe ◽  
Peggy F. Lamb ◽  
Darrin L. Boss

Abstract The introduction of cover crops as fallow replacement in the traditional cereal-based cropping system of the Northern Great Plains has the potential to decrease soil erosion, increase water infiltration, reduce weed pressure and improve soil health. However, there are concerns this might come at the cost of reduced production in the subsequent wheat crop due to soil water use by the cover crops. To determine this risk, a phased 2-year rotation of 15 different cover crop mixtures and winter wheat/spring wheat was established at the Northern Agricultural Research Center near Havre, MT from 2012 to 2020, or four rotation cycles. Controls included fallow–wheat and barley–wheat sequences. Cover crops and barley were terminated early July by haying, grazing or herbicide application. Yields were significantly decreased in wheat following cover crops in 3 out of 8 years, up to maximum of 1.4 t ha−1 (or 60%) for winter wheat following cool-season cover crop mixtures. However, cover crops also unexpectedly increased following wheat yields in 2018, possibly due in part to residual fertilizer. Within cool-, mid- and warm-season cover crop groups, individual mixtures did not show significant differences impact on following grain yields. Similarly, cover crop termination methods had no impact on spring or winter wheat grain yields in any of the 8 years considered. Wheat grain protein concentration was not affected by cover crop mixtures or termination treatments but was decreased in winter wheat following barley. Differences in soil water content across cover crop groups were only evident at the beginning of the third cycle in one field, but important reductions were observed below 15 cm in the last rotation cycle. In-season rainfall explained 43 and 13% of the variability in winter and spring wheat yields, respectively, compared to 2 and 1% for the previous year cover crop biomass. Further economic analyses are required to determine if the integration of livestock is necessary to mitigate the risks associated with the introduction of cover crops in replacement of fallow in the Northern Great Plains.

Judith Rüschhoff ◽  
Carl Hubatsch ◽  
Jörg Priess ◽  
Thomas Scholten ◽  
Lukas Egli

Abstract Regionalization of food systems is a potential strategy to support environmental, economic and social sustainability. However, local preconditions need to be considered to assess the feasibility of such a transformation process. To better understand the potentials and perspectives of food self-sufficiency in urban and peri-urban areas, we determined the food self-sufficiency level (SSL) of a German metropolitan region, i.e., the percentage of the food demand that could be potentially provided on existing agricultural land. Main input parameters were actual food demand, agricultural productivity and its temporal variability and land availability. Furthermore, we considered changes in diet, food losses and land management. Based on current diets and agricultural productivity, the administrative region of Leipzig achieved a mean SSL of 94%, ranging from 77 to 116%. Additionally, an area of 26,932 ha, representing 12% of the regionally available agricultural land, was needed for commodities that are not cultivated regionally. Changes in food demand due to a diet shift to a more plant-based diet and reduced food losses would increase the SSL by 29 and 17%, respectively. A shift to organic agriculture would decrease the SSL by 34% due to lower crop yields compared with conventional production. However, a combination of organic agriculture with less food loss and a more plant-based diet would lead to a mean SSL of 95% (75–115%). Our results indicate the feasibility of food system regionalization in the study area under current and potential near future conditions. Addressing a combination of multiple dimensions, for example plant-based and healthier diets combined with reduced food loss and organic farming, is the most favorable approach to increase food self-sufficiency in urban and peri-urban areas and simultaneously provide synergies with social and environmental objectives.

Stephanie B. Jilcott Pitts ◽  
Leah Connor Volpe ◽  
Marilyn Sitaker ◽  
Emily H. Belarmino ◽  
Amari Sealey ◽  

Abstract Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is an alternative food marketing model in which community members subscribe to receive regular shares of a farm's harvest. Although CSA has the potential to improve access to fresh produce, certain features of CSA membership may prohibit low-income families from participating. A ‘cost-offset’ CSA (CO-CSA) model provides low-income families with purchasing support with the goal of making CSA more affordable. As a first step toward understanding the potential of CO-CSA to improve access to healthy foods among low-income households, we interviewed 24 CSA farmers and 20 full-pay CSA members about their experiences and perceptions of the cost-offset model and specific mechanisms for offsetting the cost of CSA. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and coded using a thematic approach. Ensuring that healthy food was accessible to everyone, regardless of income level, was a major theme expressed by both farmers and members. In general, CSA farmers and CSA members favored member donations over other mechanisms for funding the CO-CSA. The potential time burden that could affect CSA farmers when administering a cost-offset was a commonly-mentioned barrier. Future research should investigate various CO-CSA operational models in order to determine which models are most economically viable and sustainable.

Chiara M. Posadinu ◽  
Monica Rodriguez ◽  
Fabio Madau ◽  
Giovanna Attene

Abstract The valorization of plant genetic resources and their direct use in local markets can make a significant contribution to the preservation of agrobiodiversity, while also contributing to the sustainability of rural communities. Indeed, plant genetic resources are a precious source of genes, and they represent an important crop heritage for the quality and sensory characteristics that are required by both farmers and consumers. However, an efficient strategy of agrobiodiversity conservation is strictly connected to product marketability and to consumer preferences. In the present study, choice experiments that involved 920 consumers were carried out to determine their willingness to pay for ancient local tomato varieties (landraces) rather than commercial varieties based on their preferences, and to determine how much they valued these products. The results obtained indicate that consumers are willing to pay premium prices for ancient local tomato varieties (an additional €0.90 kg−1), thus demonstrating their increasing attention to sustainable food and the willingness to contribute to agrobiodiversity conservation and enhancement. These results provide the basis for planning strategies and programs to support the cultivation of these landraces and the development of regional and national markets to acknowledge their characteristics, which will considerably increase the effectiveness and efficiency of conservation strategies.

Apurbo Sarkar ◽  
Hongyu Wang ◽  
Airin Rahman ◽  
Jony Abdul Azim ◽  
Waqar Hussain Memon ◽  

Abstract This paper aims to assess young farmers' willingness to adopt sustainable agriculture (SA) by implementing the expanded theory of planned behavior (TPB) within the northern region of Bangladesh. The outcomes attained specified that attitudes toward SA, perceived behavior control and perceived self-identity have progressive and fundamental impacts on adoption behavior and affect farmers' intentions to adopt SA's particular production mechanism. On the other hand, the social interface view toward SA is not significantly associated with the Bangladeshi farmer's adoption intention. The results also show that interconnections between social and familial pressure are not significant for sustainable farming practice adoption intentions. However, the interconnections among the psychosocial factors have a crucial role in formulating the TPB to forecast the intentional behavior for adopting SA practices. Thus, the government should highlight the advantages of several sustainable agricultural practices and circulate more detailed information regarding SA tactics to improve the knowledge gap of smallholder farmers. Furthermore, training facilities should be extended to improve the attitude and perceived self-identity of young farmers. Moreover, the formulation of structural information sharing platforms and agricultural value chain facilities should also help shape young farmers' interpersonal behavior in adopting SA practices.

Christian Thierfelder ◽  
Eric Paterson ◽  
Lumbani Mwafulirwa ◽  
Tim J Daniell ◽  
Jill E Cairns ◽  

Abstract Climate change and soil fertility decline are major threats to smallholder farmers' food and nutrition security in southern Africa, and cropping systems that improve soil health are needed to address these challenges. Cropping systems that invest in soil organic matter, such as no-tillage (NT) with crop residue retention, have been proposed as potential solutions. However, a key challenge for assessing the sustainability of NT systems is that soil carbon (C) stocks develop over long timescales, and there is an urgent need to identify trajectory indicators of sustainability and crop productivity. Here we examined the effects of NT as compared with conventional tillage without residue retention on relationships between soil characteristics and maize (Zea mays L.) productivity in long-term on-farm and on-station trials in Zimbabwe. Our results show that relationships between soil characteristics and maize productivity, and the effects of management on these relationships, varied with soil type. Total soil nitrogen (N) and C were strong predictors of maize grain yield and above-ground biomass (i.e., stover) in the clayey soils, but not in the sandy soils, under both managements. This highlights context-specific benefits of management that fosters the accumulation of soil C and N stocks. Despite a strong effect of NT management on soil C and N in sandy soils, this accrual was not sufficient to support increased crop productivity in these soils. We suggest that sandy soils should be the priority target of NT with organic resource inputs interventions in southern Africa, as mineral fertilizer inputs alone will not halt the soil fertility decline. This will require a holistic management approach and input of C in various forms (e.g., biomass from cover crops and tree components, crop residues, in combination with mineral fertilizers). Clayey soils on the other hand have greater buffering capacity against detrimental effects of soil tillage and low C input.

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