Professor Amir Kassam serves as a guest editor of the special edition “Sustainable Crop Production Intensification” of the journal of AIMS Agriculture and Food which is an international Open Access journal devoted to publishing peer-reviewed, high quality, original papers in the field of agriculture and food.
Theme: Sustainable Crop Production Intensification
Manuscript Topics in the special edition
The concept of Sustainable Agriculture needs to be revisited in the context of the need to increase productivity to meet the food and agricultural demands of the future total projected population of some 10 billion by the end of the 21st century. It is obvious that the concept of Sustainable Agriculture must recognize that agricultural ecosystems are sustainable in the long-term only if the outputs of all components produced balance the natural and synthetic inputs into the production systems. Whether the required amount of input (e.g. nutrients) to obtain a desired yield is supplied in organic or biological form rather than in mineral form is a matter of preference, availability, economics and logistics. Plants cannot differentiate the nutrients supplied through the organic or biological or synthetic sources but the yield response functions, nutrient retention and release rates, and efficiency of nutrient utilization are affected by the way the combined nutrient sources are managed and whether production paradigm is based on conventional tillage agriculture or no-till Conservation Agriculture. In either case, the important question is the need to establish the supply of nutrients in effective forms, in adequate, quantities, at right times and correct locations to support the production of the desired amount of food and other agricultural products to meet the needs of 10 billion people by the end of the century.
With the publication of Save and Grow in 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) proposed a new paradigm of sustainable crop production intensification, one that is both highly productive and environmentally sustainable, and at the same time efficient and resilient, and capable of delivering ecosystem services such as clean and regulated fresh water supplies, carbon sequestration, control of soil degradation and erosion, and enhancement of agrobiodiversity. FAO recognized that, over the past half-century, agriculture based on the intensive use of mechanical tillage and agrochemical inputs has increased global food production and average per capita food consumption. However, in the process of this tillage-based intensification, there has been a severe depletion of natural resources of many agro-ecosystems, jeopardizing future crop productivity and agro-ecological potentials, and has added to the emissions of green house gases responsible for global warming.
In light of the above, the concept of sustainable crop production intensification should be the primary strategic objective of innovative agricultural research and development strategies internationally for the coming decades. Already, a set of core agroecological principles for sustainable production (such as minimum soil disturbance, maintenance of soil cover, and diversified cropping system) and a range of locally formulated and often location-specific practical options exist for farming practices, approaches and technologies that can strengthen sustainability and at the same time intensify crop production in terms of increased output and productivity (efficiency). These principles and practices need to be applied and mainstreamed internationally in the coming decades.
In order to do this, a renewed attention on the results of innovative research and development initiatives to improve agricultural productivity growth on a sustainable basis is needed. Additionally, intertwining challenges of climate change and competition for land, water and energy require attention in the following areas: bridging the agronomically attainable gap between actual and potential productivity levels in the agriculture of developing countries; investing in agricultural innovation and knowledge system development, broadly defined; and improving national and international research and development cooperation for sustainable agriculture growth and natural resource management
The special edition of the Journal is available at:
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