Contains posts on farmland ecology research, with emphasis on farmland wildlife and practical conservation. Content features research and updates from my research, conference reports and relevant articles.
The Rural Investment Support for Europe (RISE)
Foundation launched ‘The Sustainable Intensification of European Agriculture’
in June 2014. Here are some of the key points from the Executive Summary
• Input intensification per se is not the goal, but
may well be a consequence of achieving these goals. Although, an input which
should be intensified everywhere is knowledge per hectare.
• The prime goals of sustainable intensification
are a resource efficient agriculture with significantly higher environmental
performance. Ecosystem degradation is itself reducing agricultural
• Sustainable intensification means improving
productivity of crops and animals whilst reducing: the leakages of nutrients,
crop protection chemicals and greenhouse gases; soil erosion and biodiversity,
habitat and species loss; and expanding conservation outputs of agriculture.
• Because intensity and sustainability of
agricultural systems vary enormously and from site to site, sustainable
intensification development paths will differ widely between locations, farming
systems and individual farms.
• Sustainable intensification will mean increasing
agricultural outputs in some cases and conservation outputs in others, and in
some situations both.
• It would be helpful if academic and commercial
attempts to measure sustainability in agricultural systems were to build on the
basis of the official indicator sets.
• More effort should be expended to examine the
evidence on environmental thresholds relevant to EU agriculture, particularly
those related to climate change.
• In the absence of sufficiently comprehensive or
specific evidence on thresholds, then it would be more scientifically
defensible to talk about environmental, economic and social performance rather
than sustainability. This would better match the use of legislative standards
as proxies for thresholds, as performance below such standards is unacceptable.
• The phrase sustainable intensification can be
seen as the latest manifestation of many attempts to demonstrate to farmers
that they have a twin role of producing food and environmental services.