Reconnecting nature and agricultural production: mixed cropping systems as a way forward sustainable intensification




environment, integrated crop-livestock system, landscape, mixed crop-livestock, sustainability


In the last decades, population growth worldwide boosts agricultural demand for food production. This huge driver rendered global food production more and more specialized, so agricultural landscapes became uniform and monotonic. The loss of diversity is a strong evidence of how modern agricultural landscapes have been disconnecting from nature. Evidence of environmental side-effects from this pathway are abundant in literature. Now, society is pressing towards changing practices aiming for healthy diets and sustainable food production systems. This raises the question: how to reconnect nature and agriculture in the context of future food production? In this review we propose a reconnection process based on the principles of ecological intensification or sustainable intensification. The integrated crop-livestock systems (ICLS) are the most consolidated technological pathway for reconciling crop production with natural processes. These systems are diverse and can partially mimic natural ecosystems exploring the synergies of natural biological processes, while achieving high levels of food production. ICLS promote soil improvements and mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reducing the agricultural share of global warming and climate change. Besides, these systems are more efficient in the use of nutrients and can optimize the use of other inputs such as pesticides. We present evidence of soil health and biogeochemical cycle restoration in addition to system stability improvement, and assume those symptoms as evidence of mixing crops and livestock fostering reconnection with natural processes.


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Reconnecting nature and agricultural production: mixed cropping systems as a way forward sustainable intensification. (2021). Boletim De Indústria Animal, 78, 1-16.

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