Pesticides pose serious threats to both human health and the environment. In Europe, farmers are encouraged to reduce their use, and in France a recent environmental policy fixed a target of halving the pesticide use by 2018. Organic and integrated cropping systems have been proposed as possible solutions for reducing pesticide use, but the effect of reducing pesticide use on crop yield remains unclear. Here we use a set of cropping system experiments to quantify the yield losses resulting from a reduction of pesticide use for winter wheat in France.

SRI practice which originated in Madagascar, is spreading far and wide as farmers are finding it beneficial. There are innovations being tried out in different soil conditions too. For example, farmers of Sindanur taluk in Karnataka with black cotton soils sow 5 kgs paddy mixed with 20 kgs of fine sand.

Balancing productivity, profitability, and environmental health is a key challenge for agricultural sustainability. Most crop production systems in the United States are characterized by low species and management diversity, high use of fossil energy and agrichemicals, and large negative impacts on the environment. We hypothesized that cropping system diversification would promote ecosystem services that would supplement, and eventually displace, synthetic external inputs used to maintain crop productivity.

Conservation agriculture (CA) is an agricultural management practice in which there is minimum soil disturbance, retention of residue for soil cover and rotation of major crops. In contrast, soil in traditional agriculture is intensively tilled to prepare a fine and well-pulverized seedbed. Soil tillage or land preparation is the most energy-consuming operation among all field operations. Compared to traditional agriculture, farmers can save up to 40% of time, labour and fuels in CA.

This report discusses the need to balance short-term water productivity gains, particularly in agriculture, with water flows’ long-term role in maintaining sustainable landscape ecosystem services and supporting human well-being.

Our ability to manage gene flow within traditional agroecosystems and their repercussions requires understanding the biology of crops, including farming practices' role in crop ecology. That these practices' effects on crop population genetics have not been quantified bespeaks lack of an appropriate analytical framework. We use a model that construes seed-management practices as part of a crop's demography to describe the dynamics of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) in Cauca, Colombia.

For centuries, traditional agricultural systems have contributed to food and livelihood security throughout the world. Recognizing the

The combined effects of climate change, energy scarcity, and water paucity require that we radically rethink our agricultural systems. Countries can and must reorient their agricultural systems toward modes of production that are not only highly productive, but also highly sustainable. Following the 2008 global food price crisis, many developing countries have adopted new food security policies and have made significant investments in their agricultural systems. Global hunger is also back on top of the international agenda.

Against the current challenges to enhance food security worldwide, the publication aims at illustrating the importance of healthy ecosystems for the provisioning of key services that contribute to food security. Such ecosystem services are water provisioning and food production.

Jason Clay identifies eight steps that, taken together, could enable farming to feed 10 billion people and keep Earth habitable.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v475/n7356/full/475287a.html

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