In southern Brazil, pastures with mixed oat/ryegrass during winter are directly planted with soybean in summer. Scientists Peterson et al. found that pastures grazed by beef cattle during winter exhibited drier soil in the following summer. However, soybean productivity was unchanged. Long term crop-livestock integration induces unique synergies which need to be considered to ensure the sustainability of these systems.
The livelihood and food of rural communities is changing, possibly due to greater access to urban areas and their market economy. Scientists Silva et al. studied food consumption in slave-remnant villages in the Brazilian Cerrado. They found a transition from locally produced foods to processed items that increases with greater urban access and more government subsidies. This questions the impact of modern lifestyles on remote rural settings and maintenance of traditional livelihood.
Data is lacking on vulnerability and resilience of different agroforestry systems to climate change. Scientists Gnonlonfoun et al. documented these scientific gaps in West Africa through farmers’ perception. They identified several factors contributing to the resilience of ecological systems. Their knowledge is the first step for designing adaptation strategies in cooperation with local actors.
Xanthomonas wilt is a devastating disease causing great yield losses to banana producers. Scientists Uwamahoro et al. identified several factors influencing disease occurrence in Rwanda: agro-ecological locations, farming practices, farmers’ knowledge, application of disease management strategies, and information distribution channels. The understanding of such factors will facilitate the development of sustainable methods to manage Xanthomonas wilt.
In tropical agroforestry systems, the appropriate nutrient prescription is a challenge due to natural environmental heterogeneity and variable nutrient acquisition strategies between species. Scientists Borden and Isaac used a novel approach to monitor root response of cocoa to fertilizers. They showed that the analysis of root trait expression can be used to improve nutrient management in agroforestry systems.
In the context of the European crisis in conventional milk production, many conventional farms are converting to organic farming at the risk of rendering them vulnerable during and after this conversion. In France, scientists Bouttes et al. studied farm ability to respond to technical, climatic and economic effects of such conversion. They showed that conversion to organic farming can be a powerful mechanism for reducing farm vulnerability.
In integrated crop-livestock systems, cover crops provide food for grazing animals but the intensive grazing of the cover crops can increase weed emergence. Scientists Schuster et al. showed that optimizing forage allowances in a grass cover crop grazed by cattle during winter, followed by no-tillage soybean production next summer, suppressed weeds and improved beef and soybean productions.
Scientists Baudron et al. used on farm-level data to reveal a much higher demand for mechanization in African smallholder agriculture than was reckoned by previous macroeconomic studies. They also debunked several myths surrounding labor in African farming, such as most of the labor would rely on women, or agricultural tasks would be carried out almost entirely by family labor.
An increasing number of vineyards are converting to organic farming due to concerns about the environmental impacts of agriculture. Change strategies need to be classified to identify the situations requiring the most effort to achieve organic conversion. Scientists Merot et al. classify transition strategies according to a scale of change intensity and speed of changes. This approach improves the understanding of conversion and leads to better support winegrowers during conversion.
Protein crops are rarely grown by European Union farmers although these crops decrease farmers dependency on purchased feed and provide agronomic benefits to cropping systems. Scientists Carof et al. surveyed a group of farmers growing protein crops in western France. They revealed similar yields in organic and conventional systems and highlighted the need to consider protein crop profit at a crop-rotation level. This should encourage protein-crop adoption by farmers.