Intercropping indices evaluation on grain legume-small grain cereals mixture

Intercropping is a farming practice where multiple crops are grown together in the same field. It has been extensively studied in recent years. Researchers have developed over 20 unique indices to compare intercropping with traditional farming practices. Our study collected data from previous intercropping experiments and evaluated those data on the existing indices. We found that the success of intercropping depends on factors such as crop density and ratio, and indices differ in the way that these factors are accounted for. To improve research in this area, it is important to establish a standard protocol for conducting and evaluating intercropping trials. This will ensure that future research is effective and can provide accurate comparisons to traditional farming practices.

  • Zustovi, R., Landschoot, S., Dewitte, K. et al. Intercropping indices evaluation on grain legume-small grain cereals mixture: a critical meta-analysis review. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 44, 5 (2024).
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-023-00934-4

Soil erosion has mixed effects on the environmental impacts of wheat production

This study is the first to encompass watershed-scale processes in the environmental assessment of wheat production and to address trade-offs between erosion losses and carbon burial in sediments. It demonstrates that soil erosion increases the greenhouse gas emissions of wheat by up to 60% to 80% and emphasizes the importance of erosion-control management practices.

 

Ruau, C., Naipal, V., Gagnaire, N. et al. Soil erosion has mixed effects on the environmental impacts of wheat production in a large, semi-arid Mediterranean agricultural basin. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 44, 6 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-023-00942-4

 

Agroforestry to support bird diversity in European farmland

Intensification and homogenization of agricultural landscapes have led to a strong decline in European farmland birds. Scientists Edo et al. demonstrated that agroforestry systems combining trees with crops or livestock represent a valuable habitat for breeding birds in European agricultural landscapes. Using audio recordings, they measured a higher bird diversity in agroforestry systems compared to open agricultural land. The study highlights that agroforestry systems, providing heterogeneity in agricultural landscapes, could contribute to halting and reversing the decline in bird diversity in Europe.

Edo, M., Entling, M.H. & Rösch, V. Agroforestry supports high bird diversity in European farmland. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 44, 1 (2024).

https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-023-00936-2

Feasibility of mitigation measures for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the UK

This review is briefly contextualised as follows:
(1) Synthesising a novel, comprehensive, and searchable dataset on agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation measures whilst critiquing their feasibility of deployment (e.g., capital investment, operating costs etc.) as net-zero becomes a focal point for highly industrialised nations; to achieve this, the authors followed a strict standard operating procedure for systematic literature reviews.
(2) Providing an open-access, informative, and comprehensive dataset for agri-environment stakeholders and policymakers to identify the most promising mitigation measures and their potential contribution to a net-zero economy across all major agricultural activities with the geographic boundary being set in the UK.
Jebari, A., Pereyra-Goday, F., Kumar, A. et al. Feasibility of mitigation measures for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. A systematic review. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 44, 2 (2024).
https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-023-00938-0

The future of digital agriculture through the lens of policy and law

Digital agriculture presents potential enhancements to sustainability across food systems. Researchers MacPherson et al. studied how digital technologies could be leveraged to achieve a diverse range of agricultural-related policy objectives in the future. They found that current polices have yet to acknowledge the full potential of these technologies. They conclude that future data ownership regimes will decide for which ends digital agriculture is being used.

MacPherson, J., Voglhuber-Slavinsky, A., Olbrisch, M. et al. Future agricultural systems and the role of digitalization for achieving sustainability goals. A review. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 42, 70 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-022-00792-6

Important information

The Editorial Board wishes you all a happy and peaceful holiday season. and would like to inform you that starting December 22nd, most of the editors will be taking some time off. As a result, we will be slower to respond, with business resuming as usual in the second week of January.

Tools to improve farm sustainability assessments

Farm landscape
Copyright INRAE and Springer-Verlag

Assessing farm sustainability provides an overview of the various impacts that agriculture has on society. Scientists Chopin et al. recently reviewed 119 tools published to assess farm sustainability. They described 5 groups from stakeholder participation and models used, identified 7 sustainability frameworks utilizing 27 indicators about drivers, pressures or states of the system, but found a lack of impact indicators. They call on developing a novel sustainability framework taking account of agronomic productivity, governance and resilience of farming systems.

Analysis of wheat yield gaps in Ethiopia

Wheat field
Copyright Silva et al.

In Ethiopia, wheat yields must increase substantially to accommodate population and dietary changes. Scientists Vasco Silva et al. measured the influence of water, suboptimal inputs, crop management, and technology on yield gaps. They attributed 50% of the yield gap to a lack of technology. They estimated, however, that if more inputs were added and used more efficiently, fine-tuning current management practices could double yields and achieve wheat self-sufficiency without increasing crop area.

Collaborative advisory services help farmers to evolve in their practices

Picture copyright INRAE and Springer-Verlag

Farmer Field Schools are participatory advisory services, where farmers cultivate together small experimental plots and merge their understandings. Researchers Bakker et al. studied how such schools influence farmers. They observed that consultative Farmer Field Schools cause limited farmers’ changes in cropping practices. On the contrary, collaborative Farmer Field Schools encourage farmers to adapt their practices to real constraints encountered in their own fields. They initiate good processes for locally adapted cropping systems.