Article

The economic potential of agroecology: Empirical evidence from Europe

Authors:
  • ETH Zurich and Université de Lausanne
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

This article discusses the economic dimensions of agroecological farming systems in Europe. It firstly theoretically elaborates the reasons why, and under what conditions, agroecological farming systems have the potential to produce higher incomes than farms that follow the conventional logic. This theoretical exposition is then followed by a presentation of empirical material from a wide range of European countries that shows the extent to which this potential is being realized. The empirical data draw upon different styles of farming that can be described as ‘proto-agroecological’: approaches to farming that are agroecological by nature, but which may not necessarily explicitly define themselves as agroecological. The empirical material that we present shows the huge potential and radical opportunities that Europe's, often silent, ‘agroecological turn’ offers to farmers that could (and should) be the basis for the future transformation of European agricultural policies, since agroecology not only allows for more sustainable production of healthier food but also considerably improves farmers' incomes. It equally carries the promise of re-enlarging productive agricultural (and related) employment and increasing the total income generated by the agricultural sector, at both regional and national levels. While we recognise that agroecology is a worldwide and multidimensional phenomenon we have chosen to limit this analysis to Europe and the economic dimension. This choice is made in order to refute current discourses that represent agroecology as unproductive and unprofitable and an option that would require massive subsidies.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Parte-se da premissa de que as pequenas propriedades rurais, praticantes da agroecologia, devem ser economicamente viáveis. (Ploeg et al, 2019;Altieri; Toledo, 2011; Caporal; Costabeber, 2002;Guerra et al, 2017), buscando-se, desta forma, restauração da autossuficiência local, à conservação e regeneração da agrobiodiversidade dos recursos naturais e produção de alimentos saudáveis com baixos insumos. ...
... Parte-se da premissa de que as pequenas propriedades rurais, praticantes da agroecologia, devem ser economicamente viáveis. (Ploeg et al, 2019;Altieri;Toledo, 2011;Caporal;Costabeber, 2002;Guerra et al, 2017), buscando-se, desta forma, restauração da autossuficiência local, à conservação e regeneração da agrobiodiversidade dos recursos naturais e produção de alimentos saudáveis com baixos insumos. (Altieri; Nicholls, 2020;2011;2005;Ploeg et al, 2019;Nicholls;Altieri, 2018;Tomich et al., 2011;Floriani;Floriani, 2010;2020;Altieri, 1989a;1989b;1995;2000;2011). ...
... (Ploeg et al, 2019;Altieri;Toledo, 2011;Caporal;Costabeber, 2002;Guerra et al, 2017), buscando-se, desta forma, restauração da autossuficiência local, à conservação e regeneração da agrobiodiversidade dos recursos naturais e produção de alimentos saudáveis com baixos insumos. (Altieri; Nicholls, 2020;2011;2005;Ploeg et al, 2019;Nicholls;Altieri, 2018;Tomich et al., 2011;Floriani;Floriani, 2010;2020;Altieri, 1989a;1989b;1995;2000;2011). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
O artigo discute certificações agroecológicas sob o prisma econômico, notadamente os aspectos competitividade, as relações custo-benefício e valor agregado advindos com os processos de transição agroecológica e adaptação à extensa legislação e protocolos institucionalizados. Trata se de pesquisa qualitativa de cunho teórico que busca a reflexão crítica. Os resultados apontam as dificuldades e as relações custos das certificações agroecológicas que, por vezes, apresentam-se demasiadamente caras inacessíveis.
... La mayor demanda de mano de obra puede derivar en una insostenibilidad económica, ya que aumentan los costes totales de la producción 101 . Sin embargo, hay características como la menor dependencia de insumos externos o la combinación de agricultura y ganadería, que permiten disminuir los costes productivos 102 . En la ganadería algunos estudios encontraron que la producción láctea agroecológica requiere de mayor mano de obra (2,51 UTA a tiempo completo frente a 1,6 en granjas convencionales) 102 . ...
... Sin embargo, hay características como la menor dependencia de insumos externos o la combinación de agricultura y ganadería, que permiten disminuir los costes productivos 102 . En la ganadería algunos estudios encontraron que la producción láctea agroecológica requiere de mayor mano de obra (2,51 UTA a tiempo completo frente a 1,6 en granjas convencionales) 102 . En el norte de España encontramos una elevada empleabilidad en el bovino ecológico lechero con una media de 6,2 UTA/100 ha 103 , frente a la media general de 5,8 UTA/100 ha del vacuno lechero en España 104 . ...
... In spite of these efforts, farm revenue is volatile and net income continues to decline with the globalization of economic power and markets 39,40 . The cost-price squeeze of input-intensive agriculture places inexorable downward pressure on net farm income 41 . Meanwhile, income inequality worldwide pits farmers in need of prices that sustain their livelihoods against poor consumers dependent on cheap food 40,42 . ...
... Farmers worldwide face an existential challenge. Food systems alone often do not return enough value to farmers to enable them to continue farming 38,41 , let alone support a good life or invest in transitions towards regenerative farming systems 44 . ...
Article
The world currently faces a suite of urgent challenges: environmental degradation, diminished biodiversity, climate change and persistent poverty and associated injustices. All of these challenges can be addressed to a large extent through agriculture. A dichotomy expressed as ‘food versus fuel’ has misled thinking and hindered needed action towards building agricultural systems in ways that are regenerative, biodiverse, climate resilient, equitable and economically sustainable. Here we offer examples of agricultural systems that meet the urgent needs while also producing food and energy. We call for refocused conversation and united action towards rapidly deploying such systems across biophysical and socioeconomic settings.
... Outrossim, em consonância, parte-se da premissa de que as pequenas propriedades rurais, praticantes da agroecologia, devem ser economicamente viáveis. (ALTIERI; TOLEDO, 2011;MILONE et al., 2018;VAN DER PLOEG, 2021; VAN DER PLOEG et al., 2019), buscando-se, desta forma, restauração da autossuficiência local, à conservação e regeneração da agrobiodiversidade dos recursos naturais e produção de alimentos saudáveis com baixos insumos. (ALTIERI, 1989(ALTIERI, , 2000NICHOLLS, 2020;TOLEDO, 2011;FLORIANI, 2022;TOMICH et al., 2011) A certificação de produtos agroecológicos está sujeita a amplo arcabouço jurídico que institui protocolos para a produção e comercialização de produtos, com garantia de qualidade e precedência. ...
... Summer mountain pasture management is considered to be decisive for the maintenance of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and landscapes (MEA 2005;Girard et al. 2008;IPBES 2017;García-Ruiz et al. 2020). Well-managed mountain pastures are central for the provision of public goods and are a central cornerstone in agro-ecological and low input grazing livestock systems (Borsotto et al. 2014;Furtschegger and Schermer 2015;van der Ploeg et al. 2019), whereas most ecosystem impacts are related to inapt stocking densities in alpine meadows. High stocking densities may cause a range of negative impacts on plant and animal communities (Dumont et al. 2009;Jerneck et al. 2011;Negro et al. 2011), pollution, and loss of stored carbon (Abdalla et al. 2018;Mahefarisoa et al. 2021), while grassland abandonment increases the risk for landslides in topsoils (Tasser et al. 2003). ...
Article
Full-text available
Mountain pastures are embedded in highly sensitive mountain ecosystems and provide forage for livestock during summer. In years when forage in the lowlands becomes scarce due to over-grazing and land degradation, or climate-related extreme events such as droughts, increasing stocking densities or expanding grazed areas in mountain pastures provide an additional and cost-efficient forage source. Their utilization highly depends on the management decisions of farmers and practices on their own agricultural land. To predict future land use and concomitant ecological impacts, it is crucial to understand the complex interplay between the decisions of farmers as well as the socio-economic and climatic environment. To understand these interactions, we use the agent-based part of the SECLAND model to analyze the future systemic feedback between climate change, land owner’s decisions on land use, and land use change on agricultural land and mountain pastures in the department of Ariège, France. We develop three land use scenarios for a sustainability-driven, a business-as-usual, and a scenario driven by fossil-fueled economic growth. In all scenarios, 32–46% of farms cease to exist, while active farms intensify their land use. On mountain pastures, results show increasing stocking densities up to the maximum carrying capacity of 0.3 livestock units per hectare, especially under the scenario with strong climate change effects and increased extreme events. Additionally, these patterns are strongly shaped by farm succession, vegetation regrowth on unused mountain pastures, and the search for cost-efficient forage resources. Such high stocking densities on mountain pastures increase the pressure on the ecosystem through manure droppings and the introduction of alien microbes, calling for considerate management to avoid conflicting situations. Agent-based models such as that used in this study enable researchers to untangle the described complex interactions between grazing livestock, and the utilization of lowland and mountain pastures in European mountain agroecosystems.
... Social and technical support and interventions at the farmlevel and across whole food networks will be needed to stimulate systemic change towards sustainable food systems and overcome challenges with transitioning to agroecology, such as higher production costs, knowledge intensity of agroecological practices and approaches and the need for capacity building, overcoming system inertia and vested interests, the need for regulation and institutional change, or difficulties in marketing. Social solutions, focused on changing attitudes, norms, relationships and cooperation between individuals and groups in the food system, and usually driven by grassroots organizations or farmer communities, are critical to enabling transitions towards agroecological principles (IPES-Food et al. 2018;van der Ploeg et al. 2019). Bottom-up approaches can be very effective catalysts for change where there is an enabling policy, institutional and market environment. ...
Article
Full-text available
Governments are updating national strategies to meet global goals on biodiversity, climate change and food systems proposed in the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 framework and agreed at the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference (COP26) and Food Systems Summit (UNFSS). This represents a unique and crucial opportunity to integrate and accelerate food system actions to tackle interconnected global challenges. In this context, agroecology is a game-changing approach that can provide the world’s growing population with nutritious, healthy affordable food, ensure fair incomes to farmers and halt and reverse the degradation of the natural environment. Here, we explore agroecological transition pathways in four case studies from low- and middle- income countries and identify catalysts for change. We find that enabling policy and market environments, participatory action research and local socio-technical support each plays a critical role in stimulating transitions towards agroecology. We propose strategies and priorities for research to better support agroecological transitions using these catalysts of change as entry points. Engagement of governments, private sector, civil society, farmers and farm workers in this research agenda is essential.
... Unter dem Motto "weniger, aber besser" (WBAE et al., 2020) können Weichenstellungen in Richtung eines maßvollen Genusses mit höherer Qualität bezüglich Fütterung (Reststoffe, Gras) und Tierwohl vorgenommen werden (Derler et al., 2021;Knudsen et al., 2019;Scherhaufer et al., 2020). Aus betriebswirtschaftlicher Sicht könnten Umstellungen in Richtung "lowinput" und agrarökologische Systeme unter bestimmten Bedingungen einkommensneutral erfolgen (Kirner, 2012;Scollan et al., 2017;van der Ploeg et al., 2019). Aus einer globalen Betrachtung werden aber auch Produktivitätszuwächse in der weltweiten Tierhaltung empfohlen (Valin et al., 2013). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Um Strukturen einer klimafreundlichen Ernährung zu verstehen, hilft ein integrativer Blick auf Ernährungssysteme. Diese umfassen alle in die Ernährung involvierten Akteur_innen, Aktivitäten und strukturellen Bedingungen von der Produktion bis zu den Lebensmittelabfällen. Im Folgenden wird die Literatur zu klimafreundlicher Ernährung entlang dieser Dimensionen gesichtet.
... ,Van der Ploeg et al., 2019). Ciò avviene riducendo al minimo le emissioni di gas serra dall'agricoltura e aumentando la capacità dei sistemi agricoli di stoccare gas serra(Lipper et al., 2018; Van der Ploeg et al.,Il potenziale dell'agroecologia per costruire un sistema alimentare resiliente e rispettoso dell'ambiente, riducendo al contempo l'impatto negativo dell'agricoltura sui cambiamenti climatici Figura 1 -Il metodo No Dig, oltre che essere estremamente produttivo, contribuisce anche ad arricchire il suolo di sostanza organica, aumentando così la sua capacità di stoccare carbonio (foto: Dario Cortese) ...
Book
Full-text available
Capitoli del dr. Domenico Prisa del Libro "Per fare un Orto" * Possibile Utilizzo di Biostimolnati a base di humus di lombrico liquido per il miglioramento della qualità e della protezione di piante di basilico * Uso di Effective Microorganisms EM per migliorare la qualita e la fioritura di bulbose ornamentali
... Ploeg et al. (2019), conforme aspectos especificados no Quadro 1. Os dados referem-se ao ciclo anual de 2019, organizados em planilhas de excel, subdivididas em um formato que permitisse a visualização de informações individualizadas dos subsistemas de produção animal (bovinos, aves, suínos, caprinos e ovinos) e vegetal (roçados, quintais, forragem e outros).Somatório dos valores da produção vendida, autoconsumida e doada e/ou trocada, diminuída do custo intermediário. Representa a nova riqueza gerada pelo trabalho do agroecossistema.Somatório dos valores dos custos intermediários comprados e o pagamento de serviços de terceiros. ...
Article
Full-text available
O desenvolvimento da agricultura familiar sob a perspectiva agroecológica é uma alternativa para a produção agrícola sustentável. Trata-se de agroecossistemas que atuam de forma positiva para a segurança e a soberania alimentares, embora possuam restrições de recursos, que são um desafio para a sua subsistência. Quanto ao objetivo, neste estudo, avaliaram-se os aspectos ligados ao desempenho da agricultura familiar agroecológica, aplicada a um contexto brasileiro. Mais especificamente, analisaram-se o desdobramento socioeconômico e as dinâmicas de estratégias para a subsistência. O trabalho foi fundamentado em estudos de casos, explorando-se evidências empíricas em três agroecossistemas situados na região nordeste do Brasil. Os dados foram obtidos por meio de métodos interacionais e observações sistemáticas, envolvendo uma equipe multidisciplinar com participação ativa dos agricultores. Os resultados apontaram a necessidade de se alavancarem financeiramente os agricultores familiares de base agroecológica, de forma a viabilizar o desenvolvimento de uma alternativa de produção sustentável. Além disso, identificou-se um contexto agrícola com poucos recursos e várias restrições, mas em que os agricultores resistem e persistem no uso de práticas agroecológicas. Por fim, as abordagens que buscam compreender a realidade dos agricultores, apontando os indicadores socioeconômicos e as estratégias de subsistências, podem ser uma base para a atuação eficiente de organizações e elaboração de políticas públicas que busquem promover uma agricultura sustentável.
... Based on the demographic variables (60%) were aged between 36 -40 years (60%) were females (72%) were Hindu (32%) were illiterate and undergone primary education (48%) were daily wagers (60%) were in the income group of Rs. 20,001 -30,000, 40 (80%) had nonconsanguineous type of marriage (60%) were living in the nuclear family (38%) belong to upper middle-class family (56%) were having sedentary life style activity. [15] . Uma B.V et al. (2019) [16] conducted a comparative study to assess the level of hand grip strength and fine motor skills in 50 skilled and 50 non-skilled persons. ...
Article
Full-text available
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of degenerative joint disease that results from breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone. The most common symptoms are joint pain and stiffness. Usually, the symptoms progress slowly over years. Initially they may occur only after exercise but can become constant over time. Other symptoms may include joint swelling, decreased range of motion, and, when the back is affected, weakness or numbness of the arms and legs. Objectives: To assess the level of handgrip strength and association between level of handgrip strength among clients with osteoarthritis with their selected demographic variables. Methodology: A descriptive cross-sectional study design was used. 50 osteoarthritis clients were selected by using Non-Probability convenience sampling technique. Handheld dynamometer was used to assess the level of handgrip strength among clients. Results: The study result showed that mean and standard deviation on right-hand and left hand for 90° Elbow Flexion were 63±15 and 64±14, 90° Shoulder Flexion were 66±16 and 59±15 and Arm Dangled Position were 60±15 63±16 respectively. The calculated paired 't' test value for 90° Elbow Flexion was 2.96, 90°Shoulder Flexion was 1.98, Arm Dangled Position was 2.23 found to be statistically significant at p<0.05 level. Conclusion-The study concluded that handgrip strength need to be assessed and appropriate exercises can be implemented to improve handgrip strength among clients with osteoarthritis.
... Crop diversification has long been employed in farming systems as way to enhance ecological controls and spread risk and is gaining increasing attention in research and policy agendas as scientific findings point to its potential to mitigate the negative ecological impacts of monocultural production (Beillouin et al., 2021;Tamburini et al., 2020). Agroecological farming systems, which are grounded in ecological processes and knowledge and utilize various forms of crop diversification as a foundational practice (Francis et al., 2003), have been shown to provide agronomically, ecologically, and socially viable alternatives to the industrial monoculture model (Boeraeve et al., 2020;Juventia et al., 2021;van der Ploeg et al., 2019). Despite the fact that some form of mechanization (and possibly automation) will be necessary if diversified and agroecological approaches are to be translated and amplified in the industrialized contexts where they are most needed, technology makers have not yet focused intently on automation in such systems. ...
Article
Full-text available
Robots are widely expected—and pushed—to transform open-field agriculture, but these visions remain wedded to optimizing monocultural farming systems. Meanwhile there is little pull for automation from ecology-based, diversified farming realms. Noting this gap, we here explore the potential for robots to foster an agroecological approach to crop production. The research was situated in The Netherlands within the case of pixel cropping, a nascent farming method in which multiple food and service crops are planted together in diverse assemblages employing agroecological practices such as intercropping and biological pest control. Around this case we engaged with a variety of specialists in discussion groups, workshops, and design challenges to explore the potential of field robots to meet the multifaceted demands of highly diverse agroecological cropping systems. This generated a spectrum of imaginations for how automated tools might—or might not—be appropriately used, ranging from fully automated visions, to collaborative scenarios, to fully analogue prototypes. We found that automating agroecological cropping systems requires finding ways to imbue the ethos of agroecology into designed tools, thereby seeking to overcome tensions between production aims and other forms of social and ecological care. We conclude that a rethinking of automation is necessary for agroecological contexts: not as a blueprint for replacing humans, but making room for analogue and hybrid forms of agricultural work. These findings highlight a need for design processes which include a diversity of actors, involve iterative design cycles, and incorporate feedback between designers, practitioners, tools, and cropping systems.
... Alternative food networks have been questioned with respect to their economic viability. While their economic potential in Europe has been outlined by Van der Ploeg et al. (2019), most initiatives are exposed to risks in their over-reliance on social networks for donations, and on voluntary or family labor without a clear pathway for economic sustainability. Cerrada-Serra et al. (2018) highlighted the possibility of volunteer burnout or drop-out, and that the over-reliance on public subsidies could compromise the financial sustainability and food security outcomes within alternative food networks. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
While theoretical frameworks of food system governance simplify complex food system phenomena, they may ignore other occurrences outside their framework boundaries, and the practical considerations informing actual governance initiatives. This article discusses governance frameworks such as alternative food networks, bioregions and foodsheds, rural-urban linkages, short food supply chains, and city-region food systems; and draws insights from real-life governance initiatives to demonstrate the practical considerations that inform such initiatives. It concludes that a) localized grievances inform governance responses, b) globalization and localization need not be delinked, and c) while alternative voices are valuable, markets are important for food systems sustainability.`K
... A study on innovation in agriculture found that most farmers hold a cautiously positive attitude to innovation generally, reflecting a pragmatic approach to business survival, regardless of the characteristics of the farm and the farmer [15]. Still, the majority of them are not concerned by the multifaceted crisis of agriculture-related to its influence on the climate crisis and loss of biodiversity [16][17][18][19]. Conventional farmers' primary motives for adopting an animal and environmentally friendly housing systems for dairy cattle are to achieve higher production and profits and to receive full direct payments [20,21]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Alternative housing systems for dairy cattle have recently emerged, such as compost-bedded packs and artificial floor ones. To determine their acceptability among categories of people with a connection to animal husbandry, this study aimed to identify and compare the acceptability of (alternative) housing systems and attitudes to aspects of housing systems for dairy cattle among Slovenian consumers, farmers, and stakeholders. Farmers (N = 306), consumers (N = 508), and stakeholders (N = 40) were interviewed about their views on the main aspects (animals, farmers, products, environment) of housing systems for dairy cattle, the acceptance of four housing systems, and important housing features. The results show that consumers, stakeholders, and conventional farmers preferred housing systems with an artificial floor, while organic farmers preferred a housing system with a compost-bedded pack. Consumers and organic farmers expressed the greatest acceptance of almost every aspect of the housing system, except for a sufficient income for farmers and a low workload. Conventional farmers and stakeholders hold similar views, except for the expectation that the animals have enough space to move around, the image of the landscape, and the animals’ health and wellbeing, where stakeholders showed more acceptance than conventional farmers. The results imply that systematically planned information aimed at different target categories is needed to increase the acceptance of (alternative) housing systems for cattle.
... During the last two decades, agroecology has spread extensively throughout Europe, India, Africa, and Latin America, in particular (see Altieri and Toledo 2011;van der Ploeg et al. 2019). Agroecological projects, university degrees, congresses, courses, diplomas, markets, organizations, and publications of all types have flourished extensively. ...
Article
Full-text available
Agroecologists mainly work with producers from traditional cultures. Ethno-ecological studies conducted in recent decades, clearly demonstrate that the experience these cultures have accumulated can be defined as wisdom, formed as a complex integrating a set of beliefs that lead to a worldview (an ontological dimension), a repertoire of knowledge (an epistemological dimension), and a series of practices (a productive dimension). So far, agroecology has addressed two of these three dimensions interacting with traditional producers (the epistemological and productive dimensions) and, with few exceptions, has neglected the ontological dimension. This paper sets forth the thesis that the ontological perspective leads to spirituality, a theme that has been excluded. Recognizing and integrating spirituality into agroecological practice would reinforce agroecology as a socially and environmentally liberating activity, since it embraces key concepts such as Mother Earth and Harmonious Living (buen vivir, the indigenous principle of harmonizing with the whole of nature).
... These practices covered 37 million hectares and resulted in an average crop yield increase of 79% (Pretty, 2007). Also, evidence has shown the economic performance of agroecology (D'Annolfo et al., 2017;van der Ploeg et al., 2019) as well as contribution of use of agroecological practices to food security (Paracchini et al. 2020;Bezner Kerr et al. 2021). ...
Article
Given the demand of proteins predicted for 2050, a transition of our current agricultural model is required. An agroecological model proposes to meet these needs while producing with ecological foresight, but also considering social and economic issues. Livestock rearing in order to meet protein needs is where agroecological principles and the more industry accepted term of Sustainable Intensification (SI) overlap in certain areas. Multiple definitions of SI have been proposed, however many have a focus on an increase of productivity on already cultivated land while reducing environmental degradation and sparing habitats from agricultural expansion. Demonstrated within this review, animal products can contribute to a global diet within a limitation of 11 – 23 g/protein/day through agroecological practices. Animal protein can be included if livestock are fed only on pasture, waste or by-products; no scenario exists in which livestock could continue to be fed on human-edible crops. Agroecological practices are already being used by smallholders globally, however, barriers exist to scaling up and out these practices, which require a shift in the policy framework to value and transfer the knowledge of these agroecological implementors and increase their access to public goods. As currently both large-scale agri-industry and smallholders provide for the global population, a strategy that includes both could be favoured. Coupling the upscaling of agroecological practices used by smallholders and transitioning intensive agriculture towards an agroecological model using SI as a bridge to implement agroecological practices could help ensure global protein requirements at met in 2050.
... Contemporary regenerative farming, here taken to include biodynamic and organic farming, permaculture and agroecology, offers sustainable food production approaches that arose over the last century as rational alternatives to the industrial model. Various authors contrast the characteristics of industrialised production-of yield maximisation, the use of chemical inputs, and ecosystem suppression and control-with the ecological production approach of yield optimisation, species and landscape diversification and the synergistic integration of natural processes (e.g., [1][2][3]). While industrial production systems may thus attain high yields and profits over the short term, they are dependent on high costs and energy inputs and are associated with long term economic losses associated with soil fertility, biodiversity and crop nutritional quality [4]. ...
Article
Full-text available
In 2020 and amidst the upsurge in discourse around de-industrialisation, a consortium of sixteen indigenous leaders and organisations released a briefing statement that urged change amongst modern regenerative farming movements. Called ‘ Whitewashed Hope ’, the critique encouraged these movements to go deeper than simply taking indigenous practices out of context, but rather to encompass the worldviews they represent and in doing so to enable the cultural and relational changes needed for humanity’s collective healing. This paper takes a critical analysis approach to address the question of whether the critique of regenerative agriculture holds true for biodynamic agriculture in particular. This is explored using the hypothesis that there is no evidence of a synergistic relationship between the biodynamic worldview and the indigenous worldview as characterised in the document Whitewashed Hope . Drawing from the works of Rudolf Steiner as well as from other biodynamic texts, the paper uncovers synergies that exist between biodynamic and indigenous worldviews and explores the implications for regenerative farming systems. The aim of this paper is to instigate further debate and enquiry around the underexplored topic of how our worldviews impact our farming systems and of ways to develop an expanded worldview for more revitalised farming in the European context. Graphical Abstract
... Como ha sido descrito por Jan van der Ploeg (2010), el fenómeno se refiere a aquel movimiento cualitativo por el cual agricultores comerciales se reconvierten a la agricultura campesina para ganar autonomía. Ejemplos documentados de esta tipología de procesos es el de la organización vasca Euskal Herriko Nekazarien Elkartasuna, en la provincia de Vizcaya (Calvário, 2017), el de la constelación de actores agroecológicos en Andalucía, España (González de Molina y Guzmán, 2017), el de la cooperativa Bosques de Frisia en el norte de los Países Bajos (van der Ploeg, 2021), los huertos en Berna, Suiza, el movimiento de los okupas en áreas rurales, así como el de muchos otros casos que han venido sistematizándose en el continente europeo (van der Ploeg et al., 2019). En Estados Unidos están los casos que van desde los granjeros agroecológicos en California (Guthman, 2000) o Vermont (Caswell et al., 2021), a las experiencias agroecológicas populares de las trabajadoras y los trabajadores agrícolas y redes de migrantes en Florida y en las distintas coaliciones de las organizaciones de La Vía Campesina Norte América. ...
Book
Full-text available
Multitudes agroecológicas busca nutrir la imaginación política y la creatividad sociológica a fin de seguir pensando el difícil pero urgente proyecto de abrir las condiciones para las transiciones civilizatorias y las transformaciones poscapitalistas, en un contexto de inminente colapso del sistema hegemónicamente instituido. La obra muestra de qué manera una multitud de procesos agroecológicos hacen surgir lo inédito y de ese modo hilvanan la emancipación, en un escenario en el que parece imposible hacerlo. Millones de personas organizadas alrededor del mundo, en el campo y la ciudad, están, de manera intuitiva y creativa, desmontando paulatinamente el sistema que nos oprime, mientras traen al mundo de la vida muchos otros sistemas sustitutivos. Esas experiencias están dando las nuevas pistas de la revolución, y enseñando que es posible un cambio cualitativo en el que los antiguos fines de crecimiento, urbanización, modernización, industrialización, se reemplacen por otros distintos, como la compatibilización con los ciclos de la vida, la creación de lo común, la autonomía territorial, la relocalización, la artesanalización y el florecimiento de la potencia de los pueblos.
... (ALTIERI, 2012;TOLEDO 2011 FLORIANI andFLORIANI, 2020), and the diversification strategy is recognized as one of the means that provides the sustainability of a property in rural areas. ( PLOEG et al., 2019;ALTIERI, 1989b ). ...
... scientific findings point to its potential to mitigate the negative ecological impacts of monocultural production (Beillouin et al. 2021;Tamburini et al. 2020). Agroecological farming systems, which are grounded in ecological processes and knowledge and utilize various forms of crop diversification as a foundational practice (Francis et al. 2003), have been shown to provide agronomically, ecologically, and socially viable alternatives to the industrial monoculture model (Boeraeve et al. 2020;Juventia et al. 2021;van der Ploeg et al. 2019). Despite the fact that some form of mechanization (and possibly automation) will be necessary if diversified and agroecological approaches are to be translated and amplified in the industrialized contexts where they are most needed, technology makers have not yet focused intently on automation in such systems. ...
Article
Full-text available
Synthetic pesticides are core features of input-intensive agriculture and act as major pollutants driving environmental change. Agroecological science has unveiled the benefits of biodiversity for pest control, but research implementation at the farm-level is still difficult. Here we address this implementation gap by using a biblio-metric approach, quantifying how countries' scientific progress in agro-ecology relates to pesticide application regimes. Among 153 countries, economic development does spur scientific innovation but irregularly bears reductions in pesticide use. Some emerging economies bend the Environmental Kuznets curve (EKC)-the observed environmental pollution by a country's wealth-for pesticides and few high-income countries exhibit a weak agro-ecology 'technique effect'. Our findings support recent calls for large-scale investments in nature-positive agriculture, underlining how agro-ecology can mend the ecological resilience, carbon footprint, and human health impacts of intensive agriculture. Yet, in order to effectively translate science into practice, scientific progress needs to be paralleled by policy-change, farmer education and broader awareness-raising.
Chapter
Further development of organic food systems is not free of controversies, involving optimistic views about the benefits of organic agriculture as a healthy and sustainable food system and a critical perspective revealing the tendency for incorporation of the organic food system into an industrial narrative. The present and future of the organic food market depend on how this controversial debate will translate into market narratives. In this chapter, we map the future of the organic food market dynamics in terms of the conventionalization and emancipation paths as well as the possibilities in between. Following contemporary theoretical debates and empirical data, we analyze “organic food” as a component of a non-homogeneous social category. We identify and discuss two main narratives—industrial organic food and agroecology—constituting distinct dynamics for organic food market organization. Theoretical contributions involve the potentials and limitations of both narratives in supporting further development of organic food markets.
Article
This paper discusses autonomy as a set of practices that result in the production and reproduction of resources that allow for self‐organization. We define autonomy as a social construct that refers to the self‐organizing capacity of people, communities, and movements. Such capacity assumes both resources and agency. In that vein, our conceptualisation implies that autonomy is a relational concept: It can only emerge when and where struggles that aim at going beyond dependency (i.e., nonautonomy) concretely exist. Autonomy is three‐pronged, involving a set of goal‐oriented activities, a distantiation from capital, and the agency of social actors. Intertwined with these levels are peasant movements that have the capacity to develop and implement a political agenda that is not overshadowed and/or dictated by external influences. The paper illustrates this intertwining with the case of the Circuito (O Circuito), a Brazilian peasant movement that has constructed and operates an extended farmers' market and which simultaneously transforms farming practices. The Circuit is the outcome of collective action and shows the potential of multilevel performance of several actors engaged in concerted actions. In the conclusion, we suggest that the Circuit represents autonomy based on commonly pooled resources as well representing a countermovement to the destructive dynamics of food empires.
Article
Full-text available
Eating “less but better” meat can be a strategy to guide meat consumption in Western or high-income countries towards sustainability, but what “better” means depends on the perspective. Multiple studies and reports suggest that agroecological farming systems could contribute to a broad range of sustainability benefits, but few studies have examined the implications for people and nature following trade-offs between sustainability priorities at the farm level. Therefore, this study explored the effects on a broad range of sustainability themes following agroecological transition on a case farm in east-central Sweden. We applied a novel mixed-methods approach, combining the indicator-based SMART-Farm tool with additional quantitative and qualitative analysis of the farm’s climate impact, contribution to global food security, economic performance, and working conditions. The results showed improvements for aspects within environmental, social, economic, and governance-related sustainability dimensions, with corroborating results across methods. The case farm thus served as an example of transition to a more sustainable production system, but as expected, there were both trade-offs and synergies between sustainability aspects. Negative effects were found for economic aspects at the farm and societal level. For this case, one may conclude that “better” meat production both supports and depends on, a more sustainable farm; but that “better” meat and a more sustainable farm cannot be viewed in isolation from the wider food system. Also, “better” can be described by several states along a transition pathway. Key contributions of the study are threefold, a) articulation of the links between agroecology and the concept “less but better,” b) empirically demonstrating synergies and trade-offs in striving for more sustainable meat production, and c) a novel methodological approach for sustainability assessment.
Article
Full-text available
Nations can build and rebuild degraded soils to help address climate change and potentially improve the nutritional content of food if we change policies that allow the addition of safe mineral and organic wastes to soil. We present a framework that facilitates the transition from intensive conventional to more regenerative farming practices by considering soil's natural cycles. Our paper is presented in three parts. Firstly, we consider that 'soil is living'; just like humans, the soil biome needs a balanced diet of macro and micronutrients as well as a nurturing environment. We simplify the soil science and take a systems approach which focuses on restoring soil's natural circle to benefit both health (by increasing micronutrients in soil) and wealth (through climate change adaptation and mitigation). Secondly, we consider the scale of the problem of soil degradation and the timescales involved in rebuilding soils and barriers to implementation. Thirdly, we propose a potential framework which enables communities to identify what might be missing from soil's natural cycle. This framework helps communities consider how they might change soil texture by addition and manipulation of both minerals and organic matter. We present an educational tool, ‘soil in a jar’ based on a narrative of nurturing soil which is designed to engage and inspire society to get their hands dirty. Communities can use the framework to produce locally specific solutions to restore their soil's natural cycle and rebuild their local and national economies.
Article
Full-text available
Digitalisation is promoted by both private and public actors as a way of contributing to the ecologisation of agriculture. However, this idea remains controversial. The debate is all the more crucial, as different ecologisation models exist, and as agriculture is experiencing new levels of industrialisation. In the literature, use of digital technology in agriculture has mainly been approached from a linear perspective of adoption but is rarely linked to ecologisation. In this paper, we aim to define digital use profiles of farmers and explain how they relate to ecologisation models. We distinguish production and information technologies. Based on 98 interviews with crop farmers in Occitanie (France), we show that there is a diversity of digital profiles. Through a mixed-method, we relate these profiles to a set of variables representing ecological and economic transformation in agriculture. It highlights links between some digital profiles and the further industrialisation of agriculture intertwined with weak or symbolic ecologisation. However, some digital uses associate with new forms of ecologisation that are based on input substitution. Digital use does not appear to support stronger ecologisation of farming. This study highlights the risk of a single model of digitalisation that only promotes one type of ecologisation pathway.
Article
Access to agricultural services promotes agricultural production and livelihoods of smallholders in most developing countries. The purpose of this study was to analyze the socioeconomic determinants that influence the application of agricultural practices in peasant families in northern Colombia. Categorical and numerical variables of demographic information were evaluated at 200 Agricultural Production Units (APU) in the five prioritized municipalities. With the data obtained, multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) and principal component analysis (PCA) were performed. The results indicated heterogeneity in terms of farmer cooperative, socioeconomic factors and agricultural practices. The study found that education level, income from agriculture, farmer cooperative and credit were determinant factors for most of the agricultural practices that were considered. The results also indicate that non-agricultural income did not influence household well-being. It was found that extension services in the area of the study are insufficient and that farmers face difficulties in having access to credit and loans. Understanding of these factors is essential for the formulation and implementation of intervention strategies aimed at improving the quality of life of these communities, and to preserve and manage human, social, agricultural and financial capital.
Technical Report
Full-text available
The overall objective of this report is to summarise the analysis of barriers and drivers hindering or facilitating the implementation of agro-ecological practices, and the strategies identified that address the barriers and drivers of agro-ecological transitions in the context of the 15 UNISECO case studies. The co-construction of the transition strategies with the local actors aims to propose changes in the governance of the farming system to address the key barriers and drivers of implementing the practices, and to identify market and policy incentives that are expected to support an agro-ecological transition. Particular attention is paid on how cooperation between actors can help to address the key drivers and barriers.
Article
Full-text available
This paper investigates how pig housing relates to diversity and circularity of farms and how this influences the capacity of European organic pig producers to cope with economic, legislation, labour and climate-related shocks. It identifies resilience strategies of pig producers in Europe by analysing resilience capacity and attributes to different shocks, namely input and output price shocks, disease outbreaks, climate change, legislation change and labour fluctuations. Based on narratives of 18 pig producers, this paper finds three resilience strategies: an efficiency-based strategy, a nutrient substitution strategy and a farm diversification strategy. Non-resiliency is mostly found among the producers with an all-year outdoor production system following the nutrient substitution strategy related to low feed self-sufficiency. The producers follow an efficiency-based strategy when they cannot accumulate reserves sufficient to cope with shocks. Non-resilience among the farm diversification strategy is related to direct marketing that is labour intensive requires the ability to pay decent wages. To increase the resilience of pig producers in Europe, policies should recognise that these different strategies exist and tailor policies differently for different types of producers.
Article
In this paper, we examine the evolution of Spanish agriculture from 1992 to 2017, exploring the specific relationship between the agricultural population and the provision of agroecosystem services (AE-S). Traditionally, family farming has sustained the quality of the biophysical fund elements of agroecosystems through the work that family members have invested both in productive and reproductive tasks. Therefore, changes in the size and composition of the agricultural population and farm types are bound to have consequences on the quality of such fund elements and, consequently, on the provision of AE-S. To verify this hypothesis, we adopted the Agrarian Metabolism approach. The results showed that the value of Spanish agricultural production has continued to grow thanks to productive specialisation and the increase in irrigation, protected crops and intensive livestock farming. This has led to a significant increase in intermediate consumption, to the detriment of agricultural income. This, in turn, has favoured the growth of a more intensive agricultural sector, which is highly environmentally pernicious, and has dramatically reduced the number of family holdings. The receding of family farming has led agroecosystems to deteriorate, due both to the fall in the amount of work invested in reproductive tasks, and their exclusion from land management.
Article
Diversified crop production is a key agroecological practice that enhances ecosystem functions and reduces reliance on costly external inputs, such as for plant protection and nutrition but might also increase labour costs and lower crop yields. We investigate if functional diversification, i.e., cultivation of crop species with contrasting ecological functions, is associated with a higher growth in farm economic performance and input self-sufficiency. This is compared with increased related crop diversity i.e., the cultivation of genetically closely related crop species. We apply the system GMM dynamic panel data estimator to 35,195 medium and large Swedish farms (2001–2018), combining information on crop grown on each field and year with farm financial and individual characteristics. We find growth in farm economic performance and input self-sufficiency to respond positively to functional crop diversification and negatively to related crop diversification. The results highlight that a decomposed assessment of crop diversification provides an enhanced understanding of the build-up of resource-use efficiencies and production- and market risk reductions on Swedish farms.
Article
Full-text available
Ecuador is the third largest cacao exporter in the world. Up to 10 % of Ecuador's cacao production is grown in the Amazon region, mostly under conventional (CA) and organic (OA) agroforestry systems. Despite the importance of cacao in this area, no previous studies on its environmental impact and economic viability have yet been carried out. The main objective of this research is to fill this gap and, more specifically, perform a comparative analysis between CA and OA systems. For this purpose, primary information was gathered from 90 farms (44 conventional and 46 organic ones) that implement land management practices. The environmental performance of cacao production was assessed using a life cycle analysis methodology, with a cradle-to-farm gate approach. Up to twelve impact categories and five environmental and monetary efficiency indicators were estimated based on three functional units (1 kg of cacao, 1 kg of output sold, and 1 ha). Additionally, an economic viability analysis was performed, focused on profitability. The results show that organic management allows to reduce the environmental impact in all the analyzed categories, except for the land footprint, and improved the environmental and economic efficiency of agroforestry systems. The economic analysis shows no statistically significant differences between CA and OA profitability (net margin), which can be improved by selling co-products. Despite the low environmental impact of both types of system, economic profitability is certainly one of the weaknesses of cacao production in the Ecuadorian Amazon region. This study contributes to develop technical, production-related and political actions that could improve the economic cacao production situation without jeopardizing the environmental benefit obtained by these systems.
Article
Full-text available
CONTEXT In 2019, FAO and partners launched the Tool for Agroecology Performance Evaluation (TAPE), an innovative and comprehensive framework to produce global and harmonized evidence on the multidimensional performance of agroecology and on its potential to contribute to sustainable food systems and the achievement of the SDGs. In 2020, TAPE was used in Mali to assess the status of agroecological transition of local farms and to identify its correlation with farms' quantitative performance across the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainability. OBJECTIVE The aim of this study is to present the evidence on the multidimensional performance of agroecology produced through the implementation of TAPE in 233 farms in the region of Kayes, in Mali. METHODS Through a standardized survey filled during farm visits, TAPE provides a characterization of the level of agroecological transition of local farms and an assessment of their performance across the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of sustainability. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS The use of TAPE in this study shows that agricultural systems in the region of Kayes are at very different levels of agroecological transition and that more advanced agroecological types of farms have better performances across the different dimensions of sustainability: -produce more and create more wealth from agropastoral activities using less external and industrial inputs; -use less pesticides, have better soil health, have more agricultural biodiversity, and higher presence of natural vegetation and pollinators on farm; -have more empowered youth more prone to continue as farmers and less prone to emigrate, and more family members directly employed in agropastoral production; -enjoy an improved dietary diversity and a higher level of food self-sufficiency. SIGNIFICANCE There is a growing global interest in agroecology and a growing demand for evidence on its performance across the different dimensions of sustainability and on its potential to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. TAPE has been created with the goal to fill this knowledge gap through the creation of global and harmonized evidence on the multidimensional performance of agroecological systems. The presentation of TAPE's results from Mali is meant to inform all interested stakeholders on the performance of agroecology in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, to support the transition of different types of agricultural systems towards more sustainable production, and to encourage the formulation of adequate programs and policies enabling different processes of transition that take into consideration agroecological practices and principles. Such evidence is particularly needed in Sub-Saharan Africa where agroecology as a science, a practice and a social movement has been less promoted than in other regions.
Article
Transformations in the agri-food system since the early 19th century have led to an unprecedented increase in food production. However, the structure of this system has generated many negative environmental and social impacts that threaten the sustainability at the local, regional and global scale. This situation entails the need for an agroecological transition that leads to an agri-food model that is aware of the planetary boundaries and guarantees the reproduction of human and all other forms of life. Agroecology is crucial for the Mediterranean, where the negative environmental and social impacts of industrial agriculture are particularly evident. The aim of this paper is to present a best practice viticulture farming that is in an advanced level of agroecological transition in the region. The results show that the energy efficiency of this agroecosystem is greater to conventional farms in the region, while generating similar financial returns but more equally distributed than the big agro-industrial companies in the sector. Based on this best practice case study, we provide several methodological and practical insights on the energy balance of the farm system, supplemented by data on the value-added distribution from wholesaler selling back to the industrial winemaking and vine-growing incomes, and the final financial returns of the company. The results highlight the need of multifactorial analyses that contribute to a systemic perspective on the synergic elements and leverage points for scaling-up the agroecological transition of Mediterranean viticulture.
Article
This essay focuses on the commonly used term ‘business as usual’ and theorizes the change it entails. Business as usual refers to the continuation ad infinitum of established social practices, the current socio-material structures, whatever they might be. Yet, business as usual also entails change. It refers to a general type of social change; cumulative socio-material change inherently linked to the reproduction of established practices. Cumulative change should be seen as distinct from both evolutionary and revolutionary types of change. Uneventfully unfolding cumulative processes have significant impacts on our societies and their ‘built’ and ‘natural’ environments. They are typically non-disruptive, but they ordinarily exhibit nonlinearities and sometimes disruptions. Transforming business-as-usual changes from an ordinary ‘state of affairs’ to pressing political-economic problems may be see as general and global grand challenge that requires transformative agency targeting apex social practices, such as neoliberalism, that define the framework of action for most life-worlds.
Article
Full-text available
Finding a food system to feed the growing worldwide population remains a challenge , especially in the current era, where natural resources are being dramatically depleted. From a historical point of view, the Green Revolution, together with bio-fortification and sustainable intensification, was established as a possible solution to counter hunger and malnutrition during the second half of the 20th century. As a solution, to overcome the limitations attributed to the Green Revolution, food supply chains were developed. The current food system, based on the long food supply chain (LFSC), is characterized by globalization, promoting several advantages for both producers and consumers. However, LFSC has been demonstrated to be unable to feed the global population and, furthermore, it generates negative ecological, environmental , logistical, and nutritional pressures. Thus, novel efficient food systems are required to respond to current environmental and consumers' demands, as is the case of short food supply chain (SFSC). As a recently emerging food system, the evaluation of SFSC sustainability in terms of environmental, economic, and social assessment is yet to be determined. This review is focused on the evolution of food supply systems, starting from the Green Revolution to food supply chains, providing a significant perspective on sustainability.
Article
This article combines a ‘zoomed‐out’ political economic analysis of Dutch agriculture with a more ‘zoomed‐in’ empirical exploration of small new entrant farmers who are carving out space for alternative food networks and practices in the Netherlands. Developing a concept of proto‐regenerative imaginaries, we define proto‐regenerative farmers as those farmers whose work is driven by a desire to contribute to social and ecological well‐being. The use of the term ‘regenerative’ does not imply just the use of practices associated with ‘regenerative agriculture’, but to regeneration as a holistic framework rooted in a paradigm of care in which productive activities (e.g., agroecology) go hand in hand with the reproduction of social and ecological well‐being. Data comes from an in‐depth ethnographic study on a peri‐urban farm that expanded to other farms and initiatives (n = 5) within the network. Strategies used by farmers to carve out these spaces of regeneration include de‐commodification of their produce through ‘solidarity payment’ schemes, the forging of reciprocal relationships and networks with other farmers, and the use of cooperative resource pooling and municipal resources to access land. All of these strategies help proto‐regenerative farmers to implement radical alternatives to the current mainstream in agricultural production. Such examples, which are not necessarily new, show that the building blocks for building a new paradigm in agriculture (and beyond) exist all around in the form of civic activity, and is too often at a distance from the state. A major challenge for academics is to narrate these proto‐regenerative imaginaries as not just anecdotes, but as the raw materials of a systemic alternative which can inspire a new intellectual project, supported by a state framework for agroecology, rural development, and beyond.
Article
Full-text available
The higher intensity of labor observed in many agroecological farming systems has been little studied by the scientific community, especially in terms of work organization. Narrative interview research concerning 34 farmers in six French farm machinery cooperatives, on the basis of the farming styles framework, allows us to highlight a specific style of farm work conducive to the agroecological transition. Farmers members of these cooperatives have developed a long-standing reliance on peer-to-peer cooperation, gradually shaping a labor-intensive and collective style of farm work to make their conventional farming systems viable. They have then remobilized with relative ease the structuring basis of their initial organization of work, i.e., labor intensity and peer-to-peer cooperation, to develop agroecological practices.
Article
Full-text available
A profound transformation of agricultural production methods has become unavoidable due to the increase in the world’s population, and environmental and climatic challenges. Agroecology is now recognized as a challenging model for agricultural systems, promoting their diversification and adaptation to environmental and socio-economic contexts, with consequences for the entire agri-food system and the development of rural and urban areas. Through a prospective exercise performed at a large interdisciplinary institute, INRAE, a research agenda for agroecology was built that filled a gap through its ambition and interdisciplinarity. It concerned six topics. For genetics, there is a need to study genetic aspects of complex systems (e.g., mixtures of genotypes) and to develop breeding methods for them. For landscapes, challenges lie in effects of heterogeneity at multiple scales, in multifunctionality and in the design of agroecological landscapes. Agricultural equipment and digital technologies show high potential for monitoring dynamics of agroecosystems. For modeling, challenges include approaches to complexity, consideration of spatial and temporal dimensions and representation of the cascade from cropping practices to ecosystem services. The agroecological transition of farms calls for modeling and observational approaches as well as for creating new design methods. Integration of agroecology into food systems raises the issues of product specificity, consumer behavior and organization of markets, standards and public policies. In addition, transversal priorities were identified: (i) generating sets of biological data, through research and participatory mechanisms, that are appropriate for designing agroecological systems and (ii) collecting and using coherent sets of data to enable assessment of vulnerability, resilience and risk in order to evaluate the performance of agroecological systems and to contribute to scaling up. The main lessons learned from this collective exercise can be useful for the entire scientific community engaged in research into agroecology.
Article
Full-text available
En América Latina, la intensificación de los sistemas agrícolas y las consecuencias sociales y ambientales derivadas del proceso, han generado cuestionamientos respecto del modelo productivo imperante. En Argentina, la región pampeana ha sido escenario de este proceso. Sin embargo, en el sudeste bonaerense en general y en el partido de General Pueyrredon en particular, adquieren relevancia los sistemas con bases agroecológicas que emergen recientemente en zonas de transición urbano-rural, con mayor énfasis en la agricultura intensiva y, en menor medida en la extensiva. En este contexto, surge el interés de avanzar en la evaluación del desempeño de los sistemas con bases agroecológicas del partido de General Pueyrredon. Para ello, se ha comenzado a trabajar con experiencias hortícolas. En la primera etapa de la evaluación, se encuentra el desafío de caracterizar la transición agroecológica de sistemas hortícolas del Partido, que es el objetivo principal del presente trabajo. Mediante la aplicación de la metodología TAPE (FAO, 2019) que integra los 10 elementos de la agroecología, se presentan los resultados obtenidos de seis experiencias. Se evidencian situaciones diferenciales en el proceso de transición. En promedio, los elementos de creación conjunta e intercambio de conocimiento y economía circular, reflejan las mejores condiciones. En el otro extremo, se encuentran las sinergias y el reciclaje. El acceso a la tierra, la disponibilidad de capital y la capacidad de gestión, inciden fuertemente en el proceso. La evaluación del desempeño de los sistemas permite obtener un diagnóstico útil para formular políticas. Se considera que incluir la mirada de los actores en etapas iniciales de la evaluación permitiría consensuar los criterios más adecuados para la realidad socio-históricamente situada que permita avanzar hacia la sustentabilidad del territorio local. ABSTRACT In Latin America, agricultural systems intensification and the social and environmental consequences derived from this process have raised questions about the prevailing production model. In Argentina, the Pampas region has been the scene of this process. However, in the southeast of the Buenos Aires province in general and in the district of General Pueyrredon in particular, systems with agroecological bases acquire relevance. These systems have recently emerged in urban-rural transition zones, especially in intensive agriculture and, to a lesser extent, in extensive agriculture. In this context, the interest arises to advance in the evaluation of the performance of the systems with agroecological bases of the district of General Pueyrredon. To do this, work has begun with horticultural experiences. In the first stage of the evaluation, there is the challenge of characterizing the agroecological transition of horticultural systems, which is the main objective of this research. Through the application of the TAPE methodology (FAO, 2019) that integrates the 10 elements of agroecology, the results obtained from six experiences are presented. Differential situations are evident in the transition process. On average, the elements of joint creation and exchange of knowledge and circular economy reflect the best conditions. At the other extreme are synergies and recycling. Access to land, availability of capital and management capacity strongly influence the process. The evaluation of the performance of the systems allows obtaining a useful diagnosis for formulating policies. It is considered that including the gaze of the actors in the initial stages of the evaluation would allow a consensus on the most appropriate criteria for the socio-historically situated reality that allows progress towards the sustainability of the local territory.
Article
Full-text available
The debate concerning the need for significant transformations towards more nutrition oriented, environmentally sustainable and inclusive food systems has generated increased attention towards agroecology in recent years. Literature on this subject has already demonstrated that transitions to agroecology will be context specific, as countries and regions have distinctive visions for the future of agriculture and food systems, unique starting points, and will therefore define their own transition pathways. This paper assesses how different policies (consumer oriented; producer oriented; market and food environment oriented; macro and trade oriented; and cross-cutting policies) can affect incentives for agroecology. It provides examples of policies and related actions taken by national, regional and city governments that intend to promote one or more agroecological principles. The assessment reveals that, until now, few countries have embarked on a broad set of reforms with sustained commitments. Many of these policies are new, weakly institutionalized and supported by limited budgets, making it difficult to analyze their actual effects. Because of this, there is very little research on how effective they have been in promoting agroecological transitions or the objectives that agroecology aims to achieve. Consequently, the paper’s main recommendation is for research to fill this gap so that future policy formulation and implementation can be better informed by experiences from different countries.
Article
Full-text available
Agroecological transitions in the Global North are inhibited by the cultural and legal norms of an ‘ownership model’ of property that underpins agrarian capitalism. The resulting property system limits asset transfers to agroecological regimes and co-produces technologically oriented reforms. Scotland’s land reforms are emergent legal interventions to reshape land ownership within a Western legal context. By examining legal manoeuvres, mobilizing discourses, and governance considerations in Scotland, we sketch a roadmap for rethinking property in regions where the ownership model is entrenched. This case suggests that existing property law can be leveraged to achieve shifts in property norms towards promoting agroecology.
Article
Full-text available
The predominant agricultural model in Brazil presents marked social, economic, and environmental disparities. This scenario consists of a great challenge for the advancement of Agroecology, one of the ways pointed out by the United Nations for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the territorial development in a sustainable way. Thus, the present study aimed to analyze the limits and challenges in the implementation of territorial strategies from the perspective of Healthy and Sustainable Territories (TSS), having the agroecology vs. agrochemicals controversy as a structuring axis. The essay focuses its analysis on the Integrated Development Region of the Federal District and Surroundings (RideDF), in the form of prospective research, with literature review and pertinent documentary collection. It is concluded that, in spite of its potential, information on the theme is scarce, especially on the effectiveness and efficiency of the TSS implementation strategy and the use of Agroecology as a support. The study also concludes that there is a need to deepen the accomplishment of new research and the construction of new territorial intervention strategies from the perspective of the TSS. KEYWORDS Sociocultural territory; Agroecology; Agrichemicals
Conference Paper
Full-text available
With the objective of discussing the insertion of agroecological products in commercialization channels, this article brings together principles of eco-innovation for the production and certification of products and processes arising from family farming. It presents a new rurality, where networks of farmers are formed and, through social organization, there is the certification of peers and the consequent use of seals, attesting to the quality of the products. In the meantime, agroecology, participatory certification systems, eco-innovation, social innovation, networks, markets and commercialization channels are discussed. Methodologically, it is a qualitative research, with a bibliographic approach. The results point to the growing concern with the insertion of agroecological products in a marketing logic that promotes the flow of products and the aggregation of value, either through the constitution of networks for joint sales, or through the use of new technologies such as applications and/or or websites, which implies, above all, a paradigm shift not only in agroecology that appropriates new technologies, but also on the part of consumers who adhere to a new social behavior.
Article
Full-text available
En consonancia con los impactos sociales y ambientales derivados de los modelos productivos convencionales, emergen a nivel mundial cuestionamientos respecto de la sustentabilidad de los sistemas agroalimentarios. En este contexto, en la provincia de Buenos Aires (Argentina), especialmente en el sector sudeste, cobran cada vez mayor relevancia las experiencias de producción alternativa. Partiendo de los 10 elementos de la agroecología –reconocidos por la FAO–, el presente trabajo propone un conjunto de indicadores para evaluar la sustentabilidad de sistemas frutihortícolas con bases agroecológicas del partido de General Pueyrredon y la zona, a fin de aportar insumos para la toma de decisiones. Los resultados obtenidos plantean el desafío de avanzar en evaluaciones participativas y se espera que el estudio realizado contribuya avanzar hacia la sustentabilidad de los sistemas agroalimentarios de la región.
Article
Full-text available
Building on the agri-environment framework in Central and Eastern Europe, the article emphasizes the role and the use of the agri-environment in provision of different ecosystem services. It shows that relevant conservation measures with regard to ameliorating soil degradation contribute to the existence of sustainable land systems. In our study, we (i) identified what the soil water aggregate means, (ii) reviewed how agri-environment schemes (AES) function to support soil water requirements, and (iii) how appropriate soils are identified with regard to the implementation of soil conservation under the agri-environment. Empirical data were surveyed to assess AES as the pivotal subsidy in four countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. Quantitative data were assessed to contribute to evidence on and the expenditure effect of the measures. This review found that AES schemes in arable land systems implement several approaches such as cover crops and the reversion of arable land systems to grassland. The costs of AE measures reflect the costs of the particular agri-environmental practice and its constraints on commercial performance by the farmer. The AES budget analysis showed that subsidization moderately increased over the 2000–2020 time frame. However, the magnitude of the AES budget is still largely overshadowed by generic subsidies at farm level.
Article
Full-text available
Addressing human and social values is a core element of agroecology, including questions of equity and social justice in food systems, supporting autonomy and well-being of food producers, fostering meaningful, dignified forms of food systems work, and reshaping ways of interacting with nonhuman species and ecosystems. In this article, we review peer-reviewed literature related to human and social values in agroecology. We identified a growing social science literature on agroecology and related social theory. We organized and summarized our review around the following themes: social well-being, livelihoods, meaningful work, and gender and social equity. There is considerable evidence that agroecology can improve social well-being, in part through increased food security and improved dietary diversity, which often contributes to culturally meaningful foodways. There is less literature demonstrating how agroecological approaches can increase people’s livelihoods through increased income, reduced dependence on inputs, greater financial autonomy, and increased self-provisioning. In some cases, more embedded local markets build connections between producers and consumers and increase employment. Some case studies of agroecological territories point to the salience of understanding how to shift discourses and support social innovations. While there is evidence that agroecology offers an alternative path away from industrial approaches to agriculture, there is minimal research on the meaningful and dignified nature of that work itself. There is also limited research on gendered implications of agroecology, such as impacts on care work, although emerging literature points to transformative methods that address structural inequities for women and other marginalized groups in agroecological initiatives. There is a small but growing literature on racial inequities and agroecology, primarily in the Americas. Major research gaps include racial inequity and agroecology in different cultural contexts, the health impacts of agroecology, such as through the reduced use of pesticides, and the meaningfulness of work derived from a shift to agroecology.
Chapter
Full-text available
Description, carbon and other benefits, drawbacks and barriers of grassland-related practices. Chapters: 30. Conservation of permanent grassland 31. Grassland diversification 32. Restoration of degraded grassland 33. Conversion of cropland to grassland 34. Improved pasture management 35. Grazing exclusion and rotational grazing 36. Pastoralism Book DOI: 10.4060/cb6595en
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter, the structure, functioning, and dynamics of the Spanish Agrarian Metabolism within the broader context of the whole Spanish economy are characterized. Biomass demand and domestic consumption, and the extent of which the agrarian sector and foreign trade fulfilled that demand are the cores of this chapter, as there are the main drivers in the features of the Spanish Agrarian Metabolisms. Transformation consisted of a greater appropriation of biomass for human use by: i) transferring extraction efforts from other ecosystems to cropland, ii) boosting the translocating the photosynthetic products to the harvestable and traded parts, and iii) shifting the orientation of the production from human to animal consumption allowing the noticeable change in diet. These changes have required the use of large amounts of external inputs driven by fossil fuels consumption and have reduced the magnitude and the number of physical–biological cycles at many spatial scales. Production limitations proper to organic-based societies have been apparently overcome, boosting the Spanish population growth and for increasing levels of consumption. These transformations have been possible at the cost of a deterioration of the fund elements not only of Spanish agroecosystems but also of third countries, reducing currently and at the medium and long term the capacity for reproduction of fund elements which might threaders the right to food sovereignty of the future generations.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
La récente mise à l'agenda politique de l'agroécologie en France a suscité de nombreux débats et éclairages sur ce qui peut être qualifié d'agroécologique. Cet article révèle une agroécologie particulière, se développant de façon silencieuse et peu visible parmi les agriculteurs conventionnels. À partir d'études de groupes en Cuma (coopératives d'utilisation de matériel agricole), nous analysons les raisons de cette discrétion et invisibilité. Ces agriculteurs mobilisent davantage les fonctionnements écologiques, non pas dans un objectif d'écologisation, mais pour gagner en autonomie. Il en résulte une faible verbalisation des bénéfices environnementaux de leur part, accentuée par les difficultés qu'ils rencontrent, leur évitement des termes provenant de la sphère écologiste, et par les conditions locales des dialogues techniques entre pairs. Ce silence est renforcé par les instruments de connaissance accordant peu d'attention à leurs pratiques individuelles et collectives particulières. Nous concluons par des recommandations d'évolution des outils statistiques et de développement des ressources critiques à destination des agriculteurs pour qu'ils soient davantage acteurs du changement de leur environnement sociotechnique. The recent integration of the agroecology into the policy framework in France has risen numerous debates and turned the spotlight on what can be qualified as agroecological. This article reveals a specific agroecology, being silently developed and barely visible among conventional farmers. From case studies of groups within farm machinery coops (Cuma), we analyze the reasons of this discretion and invisibility. These farmers make better use of their ecological functionalities, not with an aim of ecologization, but to increase their autonomy. This leads to a little justification of the environmental benefits by the farmers, worsened by the difficulties they face, their aversion of the terms coming from the ecologist sphere, as well as by the local conditions of the technical dialogues with their peers. The data collection tools, giving little attention to their specific individual and collective practices, strengthen this silence. We conclude by recommending some change of the statistical tools as well as to develop critical resources for farmers to strengthen their ability to change their sociotechnical environment.
Article
Full-text available
In the Global North, local inter-farm cooperation offers opportunities for farmers to better access and manage equipment, labor and material resources. Yet, its potential to pave the way to organize the local collaborations needed for the agroecological transition remains hidden. This paper, based on the experience of French farm machinery cooperatives (CUMA), shows how local inter-farm cooperation can help make farming systems more agroecological. We conclude by arguing that local inter-farm cooperation warrants more attention, both to help strengthen its development and to expand its potential for contributing to the agroecological transition.
Article
Full-text available
Food crises and ecologization have given rise to a Belgian dynamic that does not behave according to the conventional tripod of agroecology: practitioners, social movement, and scientists. Instead of simply recounting the history of Belgian agroecology, the authors trace the history and dynamics in Belgium), a journey along six strands that weave themselves into a Belgian tapestry: Genetically modified crop commandos, a scientific paradigm shift, hybrid expertise opening the Northern route that intersects with a Southern political route, an original non-institutional dynamic in the French-speaking part of Belgium and an institutional initiative that led to a rift in Flanders. In the following section, we identify, emerging from those six strands, four tensions that create a space of innovations, namely, politically differentiated discourses, land access, fair price, and epistemic tensions. We discuss then the generative potential of the 4 tensions and describe the potential of reconfigurations generated by boundaries organizations, food justice and transdisciplinarity. We conclude that the concept of agroecology continues to have transformative potential in Belgium today. However, no one can predict the course of such a largely non-institutional dynamic.
Article
Full-text available
Agroecology has come a long way. In the past ten years, it has reappeared in France throughout the agricultural sector and is now included in public and private strategies and in supportive policies, with collateral interest effects. Is a new “agro-revolution” taking place? To address this issue, using a methodology mixing hyperlink mapping and textual corpora analysis, we focus here on the trajectory of agroecology in various worlds: that of academia, social movements, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that promote international solidarity, research and training institutions and public policies. This trajectory intertwines actors and time lines, with periods in which certain actors play a specific role, and others in which interactions between actors are dominant in terms of coalition advocacy. Some actors play a major role in circulating agroecology as they belong to several different social worlds (e.g., academia and NGO), present high occupational mobility (from politician to scientist and vice versa), are charismatic or have an irradiating aura in the media, and can articulate and circulate ideas between different social arenas (including between countries). The stabilization of networks of actors is interpreted as the institutionalization of agroecology, both within social movements as well as because of its integration into a policy aimed at an ecological modernization of agriculture. The international positioning of many actors anchors national and regional initiatives more strongly. It is also a prerequisite for the amplification and development of agroecology.
Article
Full-text available
On aim to connect phytochemical traits as related with bread sensory features, Italian Old varieties and one Modern variety of common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) were compared in a framework taut to develop Micro Organism Consortium (MOC) under organic agriculture managements. Almost all the agronomic traits distinguished the Modern from the Old Italian varieties: reduced plant height, root weight, yield and lodging but increased harvest, tillering, and weeds attacks. Polyphenols in the modern variety Blasco were significantly lower than in the old varieties, Andriolo and Gentil Rosso but addition of MOC factor raised the content. The MOC factor dramatically modified the phytochemical traits, which in turn concurred to give the sensorial characteristics of the Old Wheat varieties Bread (OWB) to the Modern Wheat varieties Bread (MWB). A multivariate data elaboration highlighted some relationships between the classes of secondary components and the OWB scores, judged as favourable (polyphenols, bound flavonoids) or adverse (flavonoids, tannins, total anthocyans). Italian wheat varieties enhanced excellent bakery properties, based on the secondary compounds variation and strengthened by MOC factor modifications.
Article
Full-text available
Livestock systems contribute significantly to environmental issues and need to undergo an agroecological transition. This transition is not only technical, but also involves an evolution of farmers' ways of seeing and interpreting the world, i.e., worldviews. We investigate livestock farmers' worldviews and their relationships with farming practices (grazing and mowing management) in three Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheese areas in the French mountains. The study is based on quantitative and comprehensive qualitative surveys in 37 farms. We identify entities typically considered by farmers and the kind of relations they have with these entities, as well as the ontological background, sources of knowledge, and worlds of justifications. Four ideal-typical worldviews emerge: Modern; Traditional; Ecological Intensive; Holist. These four worldviews coexist in each area and also at the farm scale. Three selected farmer monographs illustrate this complexity in detail. The four worldviews are consistent with other typologies in literature. Both Ecological Intensive and Holist worldviews can be considered as "agroecological"; however, they correspond to very different conceptions of agroecology. Different worldviews imply different sustainability indicators and pathways, as well as alternative knowledge-management systems. Finally, the coexistence of multiple worldviews is a key driver of the agroecological transition, which can be enhanced by facilitating confrontation and exchanges between worldviews.
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of our research is to develop an integrated sustainability score (ISS) choosing the farm level as system’s boundaries and developing a methodology, based on a geometric mean algorithm, which is negatively affected by the internal imbalance of the agroecosystem. The first step is to identify and calculate the indicators of systems and sub-systems to assess the agro-ecological and socioeconomic dimensions of sustainability. The second step is the selection, weighting and integration of indicators that permit the calculation of the ISS ranging from 0 to 1. The farm sustainability score is categorized into three levels: weak, intermediate and strong. This methodology has been verified on a stockless organic farming system case study of 12 farms in Italy. Results show that most of the farms reached intermediate levels of sustainability but there are significant differences on ISS scores within the study group. Agro-ecological and socioeconomic dimension play a different role in highlighting the coexistence of different models of sustainability. A further development of the present methodology should include an in-depth analysis of the social dimension of sustainability and integrate an assessment procedure to formulate improved management practices that will help farmers to find win-win solutions that decrease the contrast between environmental and economic sustainability.
Article
Full-text available
Values-based food chains (VBFCs) are investigated increasingly by various disciplinary perspectives, and with different outcomes in terms of understanding and recommendations issued to stakeholders. How can values be maintained throughout their growth process? VBFCs are complex study objects, which make different research perspectives such as coordination and organization, marketing and business logics, communication, mediation of values, resilience and sustainability relevant to address this key question. Rather than discussing which perspective is most favourable, the approach in the HealthyGrowth project has been a multi-perspectival approach. The aim of this article is to explore how this multi-perspectival analysis based on the perspectival findings of 19 European VBFC case studies help to assess key factors that in successful organic VBFCs allow integrity and trust to be maintained during growth from niche to volume. Three key processes were identified through which values can be upheld over time: 1. a continuous process of negotiation and sometimes redefinition of these core values; 2. a synchronization of time bindings and time horizons within the decision-making processes of the different agents involved; and 3. an extended understanding of professionalization that relates not only to the classical division of tasks but also to a diversity of skills. The multi-perspectival analysis provides an insight that is dependent on the perspectival findings, but not visible from any single perspective alone.
Article
Full-text available
Growth processes are uniquely problematic for small-scale farms due to their impacts on a delicate balance of basic internal resources. Most of these resources , such as permanent labour, machinery, structures, and livestock cannot be increased incrementally in linear processes. Additionally, farms with the lowest levels of production have the most problematic task of resource realignment. Due to higher transaction costs and inconsistent quality, market partners are not eager to meet increased demand by increasing the number of suppliers. Instead, these partners ask current suppliers, such as small-scale farmers, to increase the volume of production or they threaten to replace them with larger producers. Thus, small-scale farmers often feel growth is forced upon them. However, there are examples where supply chain actors actively engage to preserve small-scale structures by developing a distinct growth strategy based on increasing the output of an entire network rather than placing the onus on single suppliers. Such novel growth ac-commodations may contribute to a future food system increasingly sustainable in economic, social, as well as environmental dimensions. This article uses the case of the cooperative Bioalpin, located in Tyrol, Aus-tria, to examine how such regional networks may be constructed successfully. Bioalpin sells a full range of organically grown mountain products under their own brand, mainly via a family-owned regional supermarket chain. Bioalpin has grown substantially while concurrently supporting small-scale regional production and processing structures. We use the theoretical concept of netchain analysis to explore the organizational structure and the mechanisms of horizontal and vertical coordination in this values-based supply chain. The results of our analysis may shed light on the obstacles or complications associated with a focus on network growth, versus the growth of individual units.
Article
Full-text available
There is ongoing debate among stakeholders about the future development of agricultural and food systems to meet the global challenges of food supply, biological and cultural diversity, climate change, and social justice. Among other options, agroecology and organic agriculture are discussed. Both have similar goals and use a systems approach; however, they are recognised and received differently by stakeholders. Here we review and compare principles and practices defined and described in EU organic agriculture regulations, International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movement (IFOAM) norms, and agroecology scientific literature. The main finding are as follows: (1) Regarding principles, EU organic regulations mainly focus on appropriate design and management of biological processes based on ecological systems, restriction of external inputs, and strict limitation of chemical inputs. IFOAM principles are very broad and more complete, and include a holistic and systemic vision of sustainability. Agroecology has a defined set of principles for the ecological management of agri-food systems, which also includes some socio-economic principles. (2) Many proposed cropping practices are similar for EU organic, IFOAM, and agroecology, e.g. soil tillage, soil fertility and fertilisation, crop and cultivar choice, crop rotation, as well as pest, disease and weed management. In contrast, the origin and quantity of products potentially used for soil fertilisation and pest, disease, and weed management are different. Additionally, some practices are only mentioned for one of the three sources. (3) In animal production, only a few proposed practices are similar for EU organic, IFOAM, and agroecology. These include integration of cropping and animal systems and breed choice. In contrast, practices for animal management, prevention methods in animal health, animal housing, animal welfare, animal nutrition, and veterinary management are defined or described differently. (4) Related to food systems, organic agriculture focusses on technical aspects, such as food processing, while in agroecology there is a prominent debate between a transformative and conformative agenda. Both agroecology and organic agriculture offer promising contributions for the future development of sustainable agricultural production and food systems, especially if their principles and practices converge to a transformative approach and that impedes the conventionalisation of agro-food systems.
Book
Full-text available
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s agricultural sector stagnates at a low level and with a productivity of only 613 euros per hectare at 31.7 per cent below the German average. One of the most significant causes for this are the large farming businesses which are specialised in cheap mass production. The low area productivity is consequence of inadequate flexibility of the large farming companies when it comes to reacting to market signals. Whilst smaller farms can adjust their productive alignment relatively quickly or diversify to mix their income, large farming businesses try to avoid changes or put them off for as long as possible. The form of production, which is dominated by the large farming businesses, and the marginalisation of small and medium-sized farms as a result of land speculation and price dumping, cause the federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern regional economic damages of at least € 250 million annually. The subsidisation and privileged treatment of industrial farming has to be cut down on as quickly as possible. In contrast to large parts of the industrial farming sector, small and medium-sized farms cooperate successfully with tourism and other branches. Art, literature and music use rural regions as the backdrop for their activities. These promising synergies should be elaborated according to the model “The Garden of the Metropolises”. The “Garden of the Metropolises” combines effective regional agriculture with a high standard of living, leisure and recuperation for the inhabitants of the large cities. This kind of agriculture which is mainly made up of small and medium-sized farming businesses can serve the demands of the local population and the large cities with the production of high quality, organically sound produce; and work together with a production and service sector which is suited to the region.
Article
Full-text available
Achieving sustainable crop production while feeding an increasing world population is one of the most ambitious challenges of this century1. Meeting this challenge will necessarily imply a drastic reduction of adverse environmental effects arising from agricultural activities2. The reduction of pesticide use is one of the critical drivers to preserve the environment and human health. Pesticide use could be reduced through the adoption of new production strategies3, 4, 5; however, whether substantial reductions of pesticide use are possible without impacting crop productivity and profitability is debatable6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Here, we demonstrated that low pesticide use rarely decreases productivity and profitability in arable farms. We analysed the potential conflicts between pesticide use and productivity or profitability with data from 946 non-organic arable commercial farms showing contrasting levels of pesticide use and covering a wide range of production situations in France. We failed to detect any conflict between low pesticide use and both high productivity and high profitability in 77% of the farms. We estimated that total pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects on both productivity and profitability in 59% of farms from our national network. This corresponded to an average reduction of 37, 47 and 60% of herbicide, fungicide and insecticide use, respectively. The potential for reducing pesticide use appeared higher in farms with currently high pesticide use than in farms with low pesticide use. Our results demonstrate that pesticide reduction is already accessible to farmers in most production situations. This would imply profound changes in market organization and trade balance.
Article
Full-text available
This paper documents the origin and conceptual ambiguity of the terms Sustainable, Ecological and Agroecological Intensification. It defines the concept of Ecological Intensification from an agroecological perspective, and examines in energy terms whether it may be sustainable. To illustrate the theory, we apply Land Cost of Sustainable Agriculture (LACAS) methodology to Spanish agriculture, which is representative of Mediterranean agroclimatic conditions. As a result, we demonstrate the impossibility of generalizing an extensive Organic Farming (OF) scenario under the techniques currently used by organic farmers. This is due to the fact that it would bring about a reduction of 13% in agricultural production. Which necessarily means that OF has to be intensified under agroecological criteria. This option is also explored in two scenarios. As a result, we show that it is possible to compensate the yield gap between OF and conventional agriculture by implementing low-entropy internal loop strategies which reduce the land cost of generating the necessary nitrogen flows. However, these cannot exceed the limits established by the structure of Spanish territory. That is, agroecological intensification cannot be prolonged indefinitely over time since it is limited by the land available.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Organic (ORG) and low-input (LI) dairy farms may have environmental advantages compared to high-input (HI) farms, but may also be less competitive in economic terms. This paper focuses on resilience in relative profitability of ORG and LI farms compared to HI farms in EU countries. Both a trend and a shock scenario were developed, based on milk and feed prices during 2007-2012. Although LI farms greatly vary among the EU countries, they tend to be more resilient than HI farms when assuming trend conditions. Moreover, they seem less affected by extremely low prices. ORG farms appear even more resilient in comparison with HI and LI farms but this can be explained by the higher revenues from subsidies.
Article
Full-text available
European agri-environmental schemes are being criticised for reinforcing rather than negating an opposition between agricultural production and environmental production, and for assuming instead of securing a public willingness to pay for agri-environmental change. This paper explores if a regionalisation of agri-environmental governance may contribute to overcome these criticisms. The paper empirically explores three regionalised agri-environmental schemes from Flanders, Belgium, with the use of 40 qualitative interviews with farmers and other relevant stakeholders. Building on the Bourdieusian theory of capital and the conceptual distinction between bonding and bridging social capital, the paper analyses whether and why the regionalised arrangements incited farmers to integrate environmental production in their farm management to meet other regional stakeholders’ demands for agri-environmental change. In doing so, the paper particularly focuses on the role of bridging social capital in fostering farmer participation in agri-environmental governance, which is a topic that—despite a growing scholarly recognition of the importance of social capital in mediating farmers’ environmental behaviour—has to date received scant conceptual and empirical attention. The paper reveals that farmers principally participated in the regionalised agri-environmental schemes to enhance the long-term viability of their agricultural businesses by building up more cooperative and appreciative, bridging social ties with other regional stakeholders. Notably, such participation is only likely to be substantive and lead to long-term, pro-environmental behaviour change of farmers, if farmers actually succeed in building up bridging social capital by receiving other regional stakeholders’ appreciation for their agri-environmental work. The paper ends with discussing the implications of these findings for the future design and implementation of socially and ecologically robust agri-environmental schemes.
Article
Full-text available
Despite a fast-growing national consumer market for organic products and active governmental support for organic agriculture, organic production in Flanders has shown little growth since the late 1990s. Our discourse analytical approach offers important insights into the causes of the limited organic production capacity in Flanders complementary to more common political-institutional or actor-oriented perspectives. Our analysis reveals that for decades, a competition between two mutually exclusive organic farming discourses has hindered a collaborative effort to contribute to a growth of the organic agricultural sector by conventional and organic agricultural communities, agricultural policy makers, and food market actors. Such collaboration however, proves to be necessary to stimulate a substantial growth in organic production in a region like Flanders (Belgium). Our results suggest that facilitating the acceptance of non-competitive discourses across agricultural, political and food market stakeholders is vital to support the development of organic agriculture. By revealing the added value of discourse analysis in clarifying agro-food developments, the paper supports an adoption of multiple research approaches when studying dynamics of change in the multi-dimensional fields of agriculture and food provision.
Article
Full-text available
Wheat landraces and old varieties could have an important role for food security not only as source of gene readily available for breeders, but also because they perform well in marginal environments and are more resilient as compared to the modern cultivars. The Italian cereal sector suffers from lack of seed companies that breed specifically adapted varieties for organic and biodynamic farms. Participatory and evolutionary plant breeding (PPB and EPB) have been used in this research to (i) evaluate the agronomic characteristics of old, modern and mixture of varieties and landrace of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum spp.) and their adaptability to organic farming in hilly and mountainous areas; (ii) assess the technological, nutritional and functional properties of grains (rheological characteristic, macro and micro elements contents and antioxidants); (iii) explore the consumers’ preferences for breads obtained by old and modern varieties. Between five and seven old (Sieve, Verna, Gentil Rosso, Andriolo, Gambo di ferro, Frassineto and Abbondanza), two mixtures and four modern (Bolero, Blasco, Arabia and Bologna) varieties were tested for two years in between two and three organic farms (FARM1, FARM2 and FARM3) in hilly areas of Piedmont. Agronomic characteristic were strongly affected by locations and years. On average, Bologna, Abbondanza and Arabia, and the two mixtures were the highest yielding varieties. Flour strength (W) varied greatly ranging from 230 in 2011 for Andriolo to 38 in 2012 for Gambo di ferro. Gluten quality, expressed by GI, was found to be almost within the optimal range but was affected by the year. All six bread samples were acceptable to the 233 consumers who scored them, but the bread produced with old wheat varieties, particularly with Andriolo and Gambo di Ferro, was the preferred one. The old varieties and their mixtures yielded less than the modern varieties but with higher stability as shown by the inability of the modern varieties in FARM1 to survive the winter (they were not harvested) while the old varieties reached maturity showing higher robustness, Therefore, the use of old bread wheat varieties and their mixture, assessed with participatory and evolutionary plant breeding, could represent a strategy for local communities to cope with climate change while improving food security and food quality.
Article
Full-text available
This article explores the role of local particularism in relation to the global interest in urban agriculture (UA). A growing movement is advocating UA, but future prospects are limited by variability, unclear expectations, vague responsibilities and leadership in the UA movement. We wonder whether the poor understanding of UA governance is associated with a public discourse and academic literature that too easily adopt the generic and universally claimed benefits. We argue here that uncritical enthusiasm results in an overly instrumental approach to governance of UA with a main focus on stimulating formal (e.g., policy making) and informal advocacy (e.g., civic engagement in UA). We do not deny the importance of formal and informal advocacy in UA development, but rather claim that the potential of UA needs a more nuanced analysis. Study of the interplay between UA advocacy and a city’s contextual characteristics is a worthy pursuit, as it may provide significant and more profound explanations for the divergence observed in UA developments. Case studies performed in Warsaw (Poland) and Ghent (Belgium) serve to illustrate the importance of context. The results suggest that neither case is likely to benefit from a governance strategy that only stimulates greater advocacy and institutional support. The inclusion of city-specific needs, opportunities and pitfalls of UA in the governance strategy can help to move UA toward its full potential. We suggest a policy-making strategy for UA that expands beyond the realm of food production alone. Ultimately, the aim is to steer away from assessing (and critiquing) UA solely against the backdrop of these generic success factors.
Article
Full-text available
Priority setting between local versus global food chains continues to be subject of debate among food, rural and agricultural scholars with an interest in how to support more sustainable food provision and consumption patterns. Recently the FP7 European GLAMUR project targeted to assess and compare the performances of local versus global food chains in a systematic way covering multiple performance dimensions. Especially drawing on empirical research on the performances of three Italian and three Dutch pork chains, it will be argued that meaningful performance comparison needs to acknowledge the complex, multi-facetted and time and place specific interaction patterns between (more) global and (more) local pork chains. Therefore, as regards these pork chains, local–global performance comparison is thought to have hardly significance in isolation from complementary “horizontal” (place-based) and “circular” (waste or by-product valorization oriented) assessments. As will be concluded, this methodological complexity of food chain performance comparison doesn’t allow for simple statements regarding the pros and cons of (more) global versus (more) local pork chains. Hence, it is recommended to avoid such less fruitful local–global dichotomy and to concentrate on more policy relevant questions as: how to facilitate fundamentally different resource-use-efficiency strategies and how to optimize the place-specific interaction between more “local” versus more “global” food systems?
Article
Full-text available
Over the past 23 years (1990 to 2012), French beef cattle farms have expanded in size and increased labour productivity by over 60%, chiefly, though not exclusively, through capital intensification (labour–capital substitution) and simplifying herd feeding practices (more concentrates used). The technical efficiency of beef sector production systems, as measured by the ratio of the volume value (in constant euros) of farm output excluding aids to volume of intermediate consumption, has fallen by nearly 20% while income per worker has held stable thanks to subsidies and the labour productivity gains made. This aggregate technical efficiency of beef cattle systems is positively correlated to feed self-sufficiency, which is in turn negatively correlated to farm and herd size. While volume of farm output per hectare of agricultural area has not changed, forage feed self-sufficiency decreased by 6 percentage points. The continual increase in farm size and labour productivity has come at a cost of lower production-system efficiency – a loss of technical efficiency that 20 years of genetic, technical, technological and knowledge-driven progress has barely managed to offset.
Technical Report
Full-text available
LUPG Disclaimer This report was produced by the authors on behalf of the Land Use Policy Group (LUPG). The views expressed within the report are those of the contractors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agencies within LUPG.
Article
Full-text available
Controversies over the Economic Efficiency of Family Farming: Indicators for a Rigorous Comparison with Other Types of Farming Although acknowledging the different virtues of family farming is relatively widespread, in particular in the context of the international year of family farming, it is still problematic to compare its economic efficiency with that of large agricultural firms, which are broadly favored in many countries. The criteria which are most frequently used are hardly comparable and lead to a dialog of the deaf rather than to a rigorous comparison. However, by focusing on the fundamental indicators that are value added, factor productivity, and the distribution of value added, a rigorous comparison can be achieved. This allows avoiding the temptation to evaluate family farming solely on criteria based on its social and environmental performance.
Article
Full-text available
This introductory discussion positions midscale food value chains as business models for a “third tier” in the U. S. food system, distinct from direct marketing to local consumers and global marketing of agricultural commodities. Responding to a growing demand for food that is differentiated from conventional products, midscale food value chains are developing strategic business alliances among small and medium sized farms or ranches and other agri-food enterprises. These supply chain alliances: (a) handle significant volumes of high-quality, differentiated food products; (b) operate effectively at regional, multistate levels; and (c) distribute profits equitably among the strategic partners. Value chain business models place emphasis on both the values associated with the food and the values associated with the business relationships within the food supply chain. Farmers and ranchers are treated as strategic partners, not as interchangeable input suppliers. Midscale food value chains employ two distinct, multifarm marketing strategies: direct-to-wholesale and direct-to-consumer. Both marketing strategies are based on organizational structures that achieve the necessary volumes of high-quality, differentiated food by aggregating product from multiple farms or ranches. The introduction concludes with a discussion of the challenges associated with developing successful midscale food value chains and of needed research and public policies to support the growth of this third tier.
Article
Full-text available
Since the 1950’s, the growth of labour productivity in the dairy production systems in the center west of France has been based on the reduction of grazing, often of short duration in the forage systems, thanks to a greater recourse to forage store and particularly maize silage. Since 1990, contrary to this evolution, some farmers have set up dairy-cattle grassland production systems, largely based on grazed temporary grass-legumes pastures. This paper focuses on the development conditions of such systems, and on the functioning and economic results of the different production systems in the area. The comparison of the economic results shows that these grassland dairy production systems based on agro-ecology are intensive in value added creation and get high income per hectare and per worker, less dependent of subsidies.
Thesis
En France depuis 2013, des initiatives collectives d'agriculteurs sont soutenues par des politiques publiques visant à développer l'agroécologie, dont la définition inclut l'enjeu d'autonomisation des exploitations. Alors que l'agriculture est traversée par des processus d'individualisation et de déterritorialisation, le législateur a fait le pari que l'organisation collective des agriculteurs au niveau local pouvait favoriser leur autonomisation et leur engagement dans la transition agroécologique. La thèse éclaire ce paradoxe par l'analyse d'expériences d'agriculteurs organisés en Coopératives d'utilisation de matériel agricole (CUMA). Ceux-ci développent des pratiques que l'on peut qualifier d'agroécologiques afin de gagner en autonomie, en particulier vis-à-vis des marchés marqués par plus de volatilité des cours. Pour cela, ils reconfigurent leurs modes de coopération de proximité, dont l'organisation de leur CUMA. Les résultats montrent qu'ils arrivent à mettre à distance des ressources et opérateurs marchands externes, grâce à une interdépendance accrue entre pairs, qu'ils acceptent parce qu'elle leur fournit des appuis pour mieux maîtriser leur contexte d'activité. Mais ils manquent de ressources adéquates de la part des autres opérateurs du secteur agricole et alimentaire pour limiter des dépendances restantes. De même, tous les agriculteurs ne bénéficient pas également de ces coopérations approfondies, qui nécessitent des conditions appropriées. Cette thèse précise ces conditions nécessaires pour que la recherche d'autonomie et la coopération de proximité favorisent des processus de transition agroécologique de la part d'une plus large diversité d'agriculteurs.
Article
Local food systems are increasingly receiving political support across the globe. As part of this trend, food policy councils (FPCs) are generally considered to be ideal governance platforms in the transition to just, sustainable and democratic localized food systems. However, insight into the governance processes to transform local food systems is lacking. This article analyzes the politics of localizing food systems at play in the FPCs of Ghent (Belgium) and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA). The focus is on the development of urban agriculture in both cities, and includes an analysis of the politics of scale through three scalar practices of scale framing, scale negotiating, and scale matching. This analysis reveals that differences in the way in which the politics of scale are played out in both FPCs resulted in the creation of different opportunities and constraints for urban agriculture development. The article shows that attention for politics of scale in FPCs can help identify dynamics of socio-political inclusion and exclusion and power struggles in the governance of urban agriculture. The article formulates two governance principles: understanding local food systems as multi-scalar issues, and the explicit adoption of procedural justice as a core objective in governance processes.
Book
Providing the theoretical and conceptual framework for this continually evolving field, Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Second Edition explores environmental factors and complexities affecting agricultural crops and animals. Completely revised, updated, and reworked, the second edition contains new data, new readings, new issues and case studies, and new options. It includes two completely new chapters, one on the role of livestock animals in agroecosystems and one on the cultural and community aspects of sustainable food systems.The author clearly delineates the importance of using an ecosystem framework for determining if a particular agricultural practice, input, or management decision contributes or detracts from sustainability. He explains how the framework provides the ecological basis for the functioning of the chosen management strategy over the long-term. He also examines system level interactions, stressing the need for understanding the emergent qualities of populations, communities, and ecosystems and their roles in sustainable agriculture. Using examples of farming systems in a broad array of ecological conditions, the book demonstrates how to use an ecosystem approach to design and manage agroecosystems for sustainability.
Article
The complexity of the transition to more sustainable food systems has taken multiple trajectories, differently driven and oriented. In this scenario, innovation pathways promoted at the grassroots level and based on collective action driven by social purposes appear to carry a strong transformative capacity. Considered as expressions of social innovation, their study has been approached through different theoretical frameworks. By referring to some of these, and in particular to the developments of transition theories, we analyse the innovation pathways involving the wheat-bread value chain in Tuscany (Italy). The analysis sheds light on the relevance of the nature of social innovation carried out by grassroots initiatives in their pursuing radical change aimed at deeply redefining production-consumption practices through social interaction, to meet socially shared needs and achieving several social benefits. The paper also analyses the factors and mechanisms underlying the change processes this innovation has triggered in the mainstream system, focusing on the so-called "anchoring" process. Through this analysis, the work aims at improving the understanding of the transformative potential of social innovation.
Book
This new edition builds on the explosion of research on sustainable agriculture since the late 1980s. By separating myth from reality, Miguel Altieri extracts the key principles of sustainable agriculture and expounds on management systems that “really work.” Providing case studies of sustainable rural development in developing countries, he goes beyond a mere description of practices to include data that reveal the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of alternative projects. Each chapter of Agroecology has been enriched and updated with the latest research results from around the world. New emphasis has been placed on such issues as the ecological economics of agriculture, policy changes needed for promoting sustainable agriculture, rural development in the Third World, the role of biodiversity in agriculture, and new research methodologies.