Fertilisers based on recovered phosphorus from secondary raw materials can provide an alternative to mined rock phosphate fertilisers in line with the circular economy. Scientists Huygens and Saveyn found that agronomic efficiency of selected fertilisers derived from secondary raw materials may compare with mined rock phosphate and processed fertilisers, in settings relevant for European agriculture.
Integrating smartphone apps into farmer’s decision process can facilitate sustainable crop protection. Scientists Bonke et al. studied the acceptance of crop protection apps from an economic perspective. Their results show that the large majority of German farmers are willing to pay for these apps and that, amongst others, the potential to reduce negative environmental effects and costs have a positive influence on this willingness to pay for such applications.
“Geographical Indications” are protected spaces where local actors can develop breakthrough innovations. Scientists Belmin et al. studied the way three innovations developed in the “Corsican clementine” Geographical Indication – a variety, a biological pest control method, and a pruning technique. They showed that highlighting the controversies generated by these innovations led local actors to collectively adapt the governance of the Geographical Indication and its innovation pathway.
Weed management is a challenging issue in the context of pesticide reduction. Scientists Petit et al. recently reviewed several options for the biological regulation of arable weeds: weed – (cover) crop competition, weed seed granivory by invertebrates and weed interactions with pathogenic fungi. However, the understanding of these biodiversity-based options and their performance in weed biocontrol requires the implementation of farm-scale experimental trials in future.
Plant breeders must strive to improve food security, food and seed sovereignty, social justice, biodiversity, ecosystem services and adaptation to climate change. Scientists Lammerts van Bueren et al. show that none of the current breeding orientations will achieve all these targets and make a plea for a new integrated orientation, called “systems-based breeding” capable of producing cultivars with significant ecological and societal resilience.
The farm workforce involved in agricultural production is changing across the world, including the number of people and the forms of employment. Scientists Nettle et al. studied such changes in Australian cotton farms exposed to major resource constraints such as irrigation water. They found that the farm workforce was an option to provide production flexibility, yet high adaptability had negative consequences for workers.
Synthetic chemicals, which can be incorporated in either pesticides or insect sex pheromones, have been extensively used against vine and citrus pest mealybugs worldwide. Scientists Mansour et al. reviewed the current knowledge on mealybug control based on these synthetic chemicals. Mixing pheromones and insecticides with novel modes of action, long-lasting efficacy and less adverse side effects on beneficial arthropods is a promising strategy for pest management in vineyards and citrus orchards.
The way people cope with a potential loss of livelihood is significantly variable and depends on individual abilities. Scientists Mankad & Curnock examined how the threat of Panama TR4, a fungal pathogen of banana, affects farmers in Australia. They revealed that after the pathogen invasion, a complex social environment emerged, indicative of high-stress and high-uncertainty among growers.
International experts agree that agriculture and food systems must transform to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Scientists Caron et al. advocate for a renewed political paradigm in dealing with food systems issues, linking agriculture, values chains, consumption and diet, health, social, political and environmental concerns and climate change. While food security cannot be addressed only in terms of agricultural supply, they appeal for a “context-specific, multidimensional and integrated” deep four part transformation.
Lentil has been overlooked by organic farmers mainly because of low and unstable yields. Scientists Viguier et al. demonstrate that growing lentil in intercrop with low-density spring wheat under organic farming rules provides higher profitability than sole crops, despite additional costs associated with grain sorting.