The immature (i.e. unproductive) period of rubber tree plantations is the most critical period for nutrient management and a key determinant of future yields. Scientists Vrignon-Brenas et al. reviewed current fertilization practices, soil management and nutrient dynamics in immature plantations. Improvement is possible by use of agroecological practices such as intercropping and the development of a nutrient budget approach.
Retaining employees is crucial for dairy farm sustainability in a context of decreasing family workforce and increasing farm size. Career development can stabilize employment and help farmers overcome farm changes. Scientists Malanski et al. developed a framework to analyze changes in employees’ work organization since their recruitment on farms, according to the tasks assigned, their level of specialization and their autonomy.
Producing efficiently by closing the yield gaps is essential for attaining global food security without the expansion of farming land. However, the causes contributing to yield gaps are yet poorly understood. In Australia, scientists Zhang et al. show that grower characteristics and farm management practices are implicated. Socio-psychological factors contribute directly to yield gaps but they also influence farm management practices that in turn contribute to yield gaps.
Mobile apps are available for agriculture but very few are designed to help farmers connect to information on environmental, social, and economic sustainability concerns beyond the field or farm. Scientists Eichler et al. reviewed existing web-based and mobile apps for agriculture decision support. They highlight a need for apps that improve multi-directional knowledge sharing through sensor, satellite, and farmer networking.
There is a general lack of tree planting in agricultural landscapes, although it improves environmental and economic performances of farms. Scientists Fleming et al. found three groups of values driving perceptions and behaviors relating to agroforestry. They reckon that farmer could increase tree planting via government incentives, mentoring, networks and support, especially when it is designed to match farmers objectives.
Enhancing natural enemies to control pests in apple orchards is an alternative to using pesticides. Scientists Salliou et al. compared what the stakeholders perceive to be the impact of different strategies developed to enhance natural enemies. They identified greater expectation from biological control with habitat management within orchards than from engineering the surrounding landscape.
Weeds represent an important obstacle to wheat production, particularly in low-input and organic systems. Scientists Lazzaro et al. combined genetic with agroecological approaches to study weed competition related traits in wheat. They show the high potential of interdisciplinary research for selecting more competitive wheat cultivars as valid support to sustainable integrated weed management.
The future of chocolate production is dependent on how the cacao tree will respond to climate change. Scientists Lahive et al. review current research on the physiological responses of cacao trees to the environment and advocate for greater consideration of tree physiology when discussing the future of cacao production. They also highlight key areas of research that need to be addressed to aid in the development of more climate resilient cacao for the future.
Soil erosion is a major environmental problem with severe impacts on agriculture. Scientists Seitz et al. investigated topsoil loss in organic and conventional farming. They compared different tillage systems under simulated rainfall events and found that organic farming in general and reduced tillage practices, in particular, can reduce soil erosion significantly.
Cover crops provide many different ecosystem services, increasing soil carbon storage and mineral nutrient recycling while reducing runoff and water pollution by nitrate. Scientists Meyer et al. recently showed that cover crops also reduce water drainage. Drainage reduction may represent a disservice due to its impact on the groundwater recharge. This is an important issue, particularly in a dry climate with shallow groundwater.