Industrial coffee production has increased greenhouse gas emissions because many forests have been converted to lightly shaded or full-sun crops. Indeed the huge amounts of carbon stored in forest trees and soil are decomposed then released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2) upon deforestation. There is therefore a need for more ecological coffee production systems. Van Rikxoort et al. have compared the climate impact of four arabica coffee systems: unshaded monoculture, shaded monoculture, commercial polyculture and traditional polyculture. The authors provide advices for climate-friendly coffee production.
Olive oil is a major resource of the Mediterranean region. Olive oil production can be improved by understanding the reproductive biology of the olive tree on large areas, but research tools are actually missing.
Therefore Oteros et al. developed six crop models adapted to the Mediterranean Basin, using data from 17 sampling points during the last 20 years. The results reveal better prediction of olive production.
Greenhouse plant nurseries commonly use vermiculite and peat moss for potting plants, thus threatening natural resources of vermiculite and peat moss. They can be replaced by biochar, which is a cheap product of organic wastes. However fresh biochar emits ethylene, a gas that has adverse effects on plant at high levels because ethylene is a plant hormone. Fulton et al. found a simple solution to get rid of ethylene emission.
Life on earth is impossible without plants and other photosynthetic organisms. Plants are the most important living organisms for the ecosystem because plant harvest sun energy and, in turn, all other living organisms feed on plant directly or indirectly. Plants are used for food, fiber and most recently for fuel. Pollinisators such are bees are necessary for the reproduction and survival of many plant species, including plants for food. However, industrial agriculture and the use of pesticides have strongly declined bees and other insect pollinators. This bee decline has already decreased global food production. A review article by Nicholls and Altieri discusses in detail the problems of pollinators and how to solve this problem with novel farming practices.
Agricultural production is more and more unstable as a result of complex issues related to climate, markets and public policy. Farmers must therefore develop new farming systems adapted to changing conditions. For instance in south-western France, during summer, farmers increasingly move livestock from lower plains to high summer pastures in the Pyrenees mountains. This adaptation based on ancestral know-how is due to the increasing scarcity of herbage in lower plains in summer. Martin et al. review 41 new ideas for farming systems adapted to changing conditions.
Global warming forces agriculture to be productive under marginal conditions. However modern maize hybrids fail to meet this requirement. Although breeding has achieved spectacular progress in grain yield, yields at low plant population densities remain almost unchanged. Maize hybrids are indeed unable to take advantage of resource abundance at low populations. Consequently, the optimum population varies greatly across environments. Dr. Ioannis Tokatlidis reviews the consequences of climate change on crop sustainability under widely diverse environments, and proposes crop management strategies to address the situation.