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Integrated crop–livestock systems with agroforestry to improve organic animal farming

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Abstract

The livestock sector has to satisfy the growing demand for animal products while reducing its environmental impact, in face of great climatic and market changes. For this reason, there is a necessity to redesign livestock production systems in order to make them more sustainable and adaptable. IFS (crop-livestock-trees) could be a viable option to achieve the above mentioned global goals. Moreover, the implementation of conservation agriculture practices proved to improve crop-livestock beneficial effects. This review paper aims at highlighting the scientific knowledge existing regarding the advantages and limitations of crop-livestock systems including agroforestry and conservation agriculture practices. This shows that integration (this integration can take different operational structures-farming systems) can be a positive approach to achieve farm’s sustainability.

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... Use of forage from agroforestry trees has been found to improve animal productivity in organic farms in Nigeria (Anyoha et al. 2018). For a review of the many benefits of raising livestock in agroforestry systems, in light of their potential to improve organic animal farming, see Escribano et al. (2019). ...
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Current conventional agriculture is considered unsustainable and inadequate to address great societal challenges such as climate change, environmental pollution, food security, dependence on fossil energy as well as the decline of natural resources and biodiversity. Many of these problems are related to agricultural specialization (i.e. monoculture) and the consequent simplification of the agroecosystem. In this respect, efforts aimed at improving individual agronomic techniques and at increasing the use-efficiency of external inputs (e.g. synthetic inputs, fossil fuels), without modifying the structure and functions of the whole system, appear to be insufficient to achieve sustainability in most conventional and intensive farming systems. Current organic farming systems adopting the so-called input substitution approach remain intensive and highly specialized and not necessarily able to significantly improve their sustainability. This would require system diversification and redesign of the agroecosystem to increase the spatial and temporal diversification of all its components and promote positive ecological relationships between them. Agroforestry is an agricultural approach based on the diversification of the agroecosystem production components (woody perennials, such as trees or shrubs, plus crops and/or livestock) and on the intensification of the agroecological relationships between these components. As such, it has transformative potential, providing an opportunity for increasing the sustainability of organic farming. In this article we review how the adoption of agroforestry practices could contribute to increasing sustainability in organic farming, and discuss the challenges and opportunities of this adoption.
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