An innovation system can be defined as a network of organizations, enterprises and individuals focused on bringing new products, new processes and new forms of organization into use, together with the institutions and policies that affect their behaviour and performance. In this chapter, we present an agricultural innovation systems (AIS) approach to understanding the role of research in agricultural innovation, with a focus on the case of research into sustainable maize intensification. We consider three important stages of an innovation process: the identification of problems and targeting of interventions, local experimentation and bringing new ideas into routine use. We discuss the role of research at each stage, and then argue that an AIS approach mandates increased focus on the personal, organizational and institutional capacities of researchers and research bodies.
Cassava’s versatility, resilience to climate stress and huge potential for yield increase make it increasingly popular for both food security and industrial applications. This chapter investigates current uses of cassava and considers new processes which might be introduced to promote greater utilisation of cassava. We use the example of High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in Africa to discuss a framework of enabling factors to help promoters of new technologies achieve sustainability. From this we highlight the key drivers of new uses and processes. Finally, we consider what new opportunities might arise from current research.
Victor Manuel Medina-Urrutia, Jaime Eduardo Reyes-Hernández, Gil Virgen-Calleros
In recent years the demand for organic mango, along with the health concerns of consumers, has increased. Few technologies are currently available to support organic mango production systems in the main mango-growing regions. This chapter explains current technologies for field sustainable and organic mango production and postharvest processing. The chapter describes the importance of climate and soil selection, selection of cultivars and rootstocks and soil preparation and planting. The chapter addresses issues arising from the management of established mango orchards including weed control, irrigation and pest and disease management. Finally, the chapter compares organic and conventional systems of mango production.
Claudine Basset-Mens, Sandra Payen, Henri Vannière, Angela Braun, Yannick Biard
Mango production systems have seldom been studied using the methodology of life cycle assessment (LCA). Important challenges are associated with the application of LCA to the environmental evaluation of fruit systems in general and mango in particular. This chapter describes the core principles of LCA methodology, the state of the art of LCA for fruits and associated key challenges. The chapter makes up-to-date recommendations on the use of LCA, and then presents and discusses the first complete LCA case study for export mango, from the Rio São Francisco Valley in Brazil. Finally, the chapter analyses the environmental challenges faced by mango systems across the world, highlighting the great potential of LCA to achieve more eco-friendly production and consumption of mango.
With the formation of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, environmentalists and consumers anticipated a decrease in the indiscriminate destruction of tropical rainforests. Ten years later, thousands of hectares of tropical rainforests continue to be cleared for oil palm plantations in the tropical world and endangered species are being lost in the process. This chapter, based on six years of collaboration between Copenhagen Zoo, Malaysia, and United Plantations Bhd in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, describes how measuring, monitoring and managing the environmental impact of plantation operations are key components in sustainable palm oil production. The chapter examines operational impacts of oil palm cultivation on both biodiversity and abiotic factors, as well as outlining methods of biological pest management. The chapter recommends that dedicated companies develop environmental divisions at estate level in order to ensure that biodiversity concerns are integrated into standard operational procedures.
The environmental impact of apple production is determined by regional enviro-pedo-climatic features and socio-political factors, but can also be managed through cultivation practices and inputs. Pesticides typically have the greatest environmental impact, but energy use from operating machinery and the manufacturing processes used to create machinery, trellis and irrigation materials, fuel, and agrichemicals is also substantial. This chapter shows that apple production sustainability has increased for pest management and decreased for resource use. It demonstrates that high-density apple orchards require higher levels of infrastructure and resource inputs than older systems, and argues that enhancing biocontrol of pests and lengthening the usable life of equipment and infrastructure are important strategies for reducing environmental impact.
Organic greenhouse tomato cultivation is expanding rapidly to meet consumer demand. This production system endeavours to minimize system inputs and adverse environmental impacts through sustainable water and waste management, limited fossil energy use, nutrient-balanced approaches, and mechanical and biological control of pests. Although organic greenhouse farming offers significant environmental and social benefits, it relies heavily on off-farm inputs, which seem to run counter to the principles of organic farming. This chapter shows how organic greenhouse tomato production can exceed local regulatory requirements and be seen as an innovative system aimed at achieving global food and ecosystem security through scientific and socioeconomic advances, policies, producer and stakeholder ingenuity, and public engagement.
Gabriele Beccaro, Marta De Biaggi, Chiara Ferracini, Simona Bonelli
There is growing concern about the impact of overuse of agricultural inputs on the environment which in turn has created a challenge for food production systems that should sustain acceptable production levels while preserving natural resources. It is now well-accepted that a holistic approach is needed to improve management techniques that ensure both nature conservation and stable production levels. In nut crop production the complex interconnections among physical and biological structures, agricultural practices, functions and services strongly influence, and may be influenced by, several aspects such as orchard design, ground cover management and different biological components. This chapter will address biodiversity and conservation issues concerning tree nut cultivation, through an analysis of the ecosystem services and dis-services that may affect, and can in turn be affected by, agricultural practices. It also features sections on tree nut cultivation and biodiversity, and pest management and animal diversity in tree nut orchards.
Wheat plays a major role in organic agriculture around the globe. This chapter reviews the current state of organic cultivation of wheat and of its close relative, spelt, with a focus on crop diversification, through rotational design, use of species mixtures containing wheat, and diversification at the genetic level, e.g. through variety mixtures. The chapter shows that there are constraints associated with diversification in organic wheat cultivation systems. Diversifying rotations may dilute wheat production within the rotation; intercrops containing wheat are often characterised by unpredictability and technical difficulties; and diversification of wheat through evolving crop populations may be hampered by seed-borne diseases. The chapter concludes that optimisation of organic wheat cultivation systems across the world through diversification depends on a continuous and reliable, systematic and comprehensive collection of agronomic data under conditions of increased crop diversity.
With ever-growing demands for sugar and difficulties in expanding cane area to meet such demands, increasing cane productivity per unit area, but with a reduced ecological footprint, has become imperative. The Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) addresses these concerns. This chapter describes the origins of SSI, its basic principles and the significance of tillering architecture, as well as giving an account of SSI field trials in India. The chapter outlines the expansion of SSI to Africa and Latin America and looks ahead to future challenges and developments in this area.
Francis X. Johnson, Manoel Regis Lima Verde Leal, Anne Nyambane
Sugarcane is not only the main source of sucrose but also the world’s most important energy crop with an important role in the global sustainability transition, owing to its high productivity, its concentration in developing and emerging economies and the wide array of commercial products that it can provide. This chapter describes the diversification of sugarcane production systems into multiple energy and non-energy products, improving economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability. The chapter examines how improved sugarcane production can contribute to social equality where good governance and inclusive institutions are designed and implemented. It also focuses on sustainability assessment, including the entire supply chain from cultivation through end use. The chapter finally describes the development of bio-refineries using sugarcane as feedstock and examines the ways in which efficient and effective use of sugarcane resources supports sustainable development pathways.
Mitigating the impact of sugarcane cultivation on the environment and ensuring both economic and social sustainability is key to successful and enduring sugar industries. This chapter focuses on the impact of agrochemical use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and how these may be mitigated. Persistent effects of agrochemical practices are described and strategies aimed at mitigating their impact are identified. Sources of GHG emissions are identified and some of the challenges associated with implementation of the practices required to mitigate their effects are provided. The chapter outlines arguments associated with the economic value of the practices that underpin adherence to improved environmental management, and includes a case study from South Africa to demonstrate an expansive learning approach to enhance adoption of a sound environmental management system, SUSFARMS®.
Latin American agriculture faces many challenges, including extensive soil degradation and the prospect of increasing rainfall variability due to climate change. Conservation agriculture offers a way of responding to these challenges through improved management practices to prevent further soil degradation, improve the resilience of the system through increased soil organic matter and improve the efficiency of water and nutrient use. In this chapter, we review the need to move towards more sustainable soil management practices, and the long-term projects CIMMYT is using to research and develop such management practices. We consider the effects of conservation agriculture on physical, chemical and biological soil quality and on productivity, and then discuss how conservation agriculture can minimize greenhouse gas emissions while also making farms more resilient in the face of a changing climate. Finally, we discuss the implementation of conservation agriculture in Latin America.
In an increasingly crowded, volatile and fragile world, rice represents a crucial driver of global food security. This chapter explores the environmental and broader sustainability challenges posed by rice production. After considering trends in rice production and consumption and its strategic importance as a crop, we consider key environmental and sustainability challenges posed by rice, including resource-use efficiency, how rice production contributes to climate change and how it will be affected by a changing climate. We then address the challenge of quantifying these environmental impacts of rice production, and introduce the approach of the Sustainable Rice Platform, which offers a framework for assessing sustainability and encouraging the adoption of best practices.
Sugarcane (a complex hybrid of Saccharum spp.) has high biomass and sucrose accumulation in its stem, making it a favourable feedstock for bioenergy production. This chapter reviews the key issues and challenges faced when expanding sugarcane cultivation for bioenergy, namely, competition with food crops, loss of biodiversity, potential increase in pest problems, water, air and soil pollution, yield maximization, susceptibility to drought and cold, and the issues posed by sugarcane’s complex genome. We discuss how these issues are being addressed through research into genetic improvement, improved understanding of agronomics and improved pest management practices. Case studies from Brazil and the United States offer a brief overview of sugarcane development for energy production in these two countries.
Louis Bockel, Laure-Sophie Schiettecatte, Orane Debrune
This chapter presents concepts and tools around the life cycle assessment (LCA) and carbon footprint (CFP) of the banana value chain. Bananas are the world’s most exported fresh fruit in volume and value and a key crop for millions of households in developing countries providing food, nutrition and income. As one of the most traded fruit, including transoceanic transportation, more attention is being paid to the social and environmental impact along the whole value-chain of bananas. LCA and CFP give farmers, individuals and multinationals the opportunity to identify GHG hotspots along the banana value chain and adopt practices reducing or offsetting the CFP. The FAO tailored the EX-Ante Carbon-balance Tool for value chain tool (EX-ACT VC) to the banana value chain (EX-ACT BVC) allowing analysis of its CFP, resilience and socio-economic factors. The present chapter gives an example of an Ecuadorian and Peruvian banana value chain analysis with EX-ACT BVC.
The cultivation of conventional bananas of the commercial Cavendish variety for export markets in the wet tropics requires a substantial amount of synthetic agrochemical input. Over the last 25 years, organic banana production has soared in Latin America. This chapter describes organic banana production, identifying the key requirements for success: growing location, soil quality and the use of rotation. The chapter examines the importance of soil fertility and fertilization, disease management and managing nematode and insect pests. The chapter also focuses on weed management, and offers suggestions for further reading in this subject area.
Horticultural crops (fruits and vegetables) are generally considered to have a relatively low environmental impact compared to other food types, yet there is huge diversity among crops and their impact. For fruit crops, the largest impacts occur at the farm level, most often related to machinery use, pesticides and fertilizers. For vegetables, post-harvest energy use is often a hot spot, whereas this chapter examines key findings from life cycle assessment (LCA) of horticultural crops, including a comparison between production systems. The chapter looks at the unique challenges of LCA for horticultural crops, and provides a detailed case study of the OFoot Project in Washington State, USA. Finally, the chapter looks ahead to future research trends in this area and provides suggested reading on the topic.
This chapter reviews key research areas involved in organic apple production, and covers the development of suitable varieties and rootstocks, soil fertility management and strategies for maintaining apple tree health. A number of case studies are then considered in order to show how research can have real practical impacts, for example, by adding to the organic farmer’s toolbox of disease control strategies.
There is no single recipe for sustainable banana cultivation. Pest and disease management has been central to sustainability efforts, particularly in the export industry. The global and local spread of pathogens make the capacity to manage such threats a shared concern for leading banana exporters and smallholders. This chapter addresses the gap between implementation of global sustainability standards in the export industry based on a single banana variety, Cavendish, and the overwhelming diversity of varieties, uses and production environments related to local food security and rural livelihoods. This gap between ecologically and socially diverse production systems and management strategies relying on standardisation of a package of practices complicates coordinated action working towards multiple solutions. The chapter includes a case study of a major banana-producing region in the Philippines, representing variety in banana production systems, which shows the importance of working towards a territorial approach that has the capacity to accommodate and connect multiple solutions for making banana cultivation sustainable.
This chapter presents concepts and tools around the life cycle assessment (LCA) and carbon footprint (CFP) with their applications to the coffee value chain. Coffee is characterised by a particularly complex value chain with multiple actors involved along every step, from production to consumers. This chapter explains the concepts of life cycle analysis and the coffee value chain, and describes in detail how carbon footprint performances can be used to upgrade coffee value chains. The chapter includes a case study on use of the EX-ACT value chain tool in Haiti.
Sustainability initiatives, including associations, platforms and networks, voluntary sustainability standards, corporate and non-governmental and civil society initiatives, have all been developed as solutions to the multiple, long-running challenges facing cocoa growers and producers. Largely implemented by cocoa farmers and groups, these initiatives are often supported by traders, government agencies, certification organisations and other not-for-profit organisations. This chapter examines the different sustainability initiatives and their social, economic and environmental impacts on cocoa farmers, farms and ecosystems. The chapter provides detailed case studies of impacts in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The chapter also looks ahead to future research trends in this area and provides detailed guidance for further reading on the topic.
Crop rotations are defined in terms of a number of crops organized in a specific order over a defined period of time, with specific spatial arrangements and distribution in a field and landscape, that ensures the best growing conditions for all crops. Crop rotation is thus a way to utilize the performance of a single crop in a way that contributes to the whole farming system. This chapter examines the principles of crop rotation, precrop effects in crop rotations, and the nutrient effects of legumes and other rotation crops. The chapter also considers the role of rotation crops in suppressing weeds, diseases and pests and studies rotations and crop yields, as well as the challenge of designing a crop rotation. The chapter looks at measuring and modelling crop rotations, nutrient and humus balances, crop rotations on stockless farms, intercropping and crop rotations in tropical and subtropical conditions.
Maike Krauss, Paul Mäder, Joséphine Peigné, Julia Cooper
Conservation tillage in organic farming combines the principles of organic farming with the benefits of soil erosion control achieved by the conversion from ploughing to either reduced tillage or no-tillage/direct-seeding. This chapter reviews more than two decades of on-station and on-farm research. The chapter outlines the main benefits of conservation tillage before considering its main challenges. The chapter also contains a number of specific case studies from the field. Finally, the chapter looks ahead to future research trends in this area and offers detailed guidance on where to find further information about this subject.
This chapter provides an account of the development and current status of agroecology and organic agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). It highlights the main contributions made by LAC farmers, practitioners, researchers and value chain actors to the worldwide growth of agroecology and organic agriculture. It provides an overview of certified and non-certified organic agriculture in the region, the guarantee systems in place and the markets for such products. National standards and regulations for organic agriculture are included, as well as programmes for organic agriculture and agroecology which have been developed over the last 20 years. Numerous factors including favourable policies, capacity building, provision of good quality public services and infrastructure development are discussed and found to be key to promoting the transition of smallholders into more sustainable farming systems. The chapter concludes with a review of the performance of organic systems in the LAC region.