Diversity of food systems in transitions

Picture copyright Gaitán-Cremaschi et al.

A transition from dominant unsustainable corporate food systems supported by fossil fuels and agrochemicals, to alternative socially just food systems incorporating ecological principals is needed. Scientists Gaitán-Cremaschi et al. reviewed the literature of transitions in food systems and present a framework of how food systems are configured in terms of production systems, value chains and innovation support structures. This overview can inform policies to support certain desired sustainability transition pathways.

Strategies for adapting viticulture to climate change

Picture copyright Bernardo et al.

Foreseen climate change is expected to impair grapevine natural processes, hence decreasing yield and grape quality. Scientists Bernardo et al. reviewed the effects of environmental stresses on viticulture in a Mediterranean-like climate and the available adaptation strategies for winegrowers and researchers. Rational and focused management can improve grapevine resilience to stresses. Defining clear production objectives appear crucial to develop sustainable viticulture.

Grain legume yields are more stable than expected

Picture copyright M. Reckling, ZALF

Grain legumes such as pea, faba bean and lupin produce high-quality protein for food and feed. However, they are only grown on 1.5% of European arable land due to the belief that their yield is highly variable. Scientists Reckling et al. show that grain legume yields are actually as stable as other spring crops when evaluated in long-term experiments and with an appropriate indicator. These novel findings could overcome the current negative perception of grain legume cultivation and stimulate initiatives to improve the crops agronomy.

Designing a future food vision for the Nordics

Picture copyright Jannie Hagman, SLU, Sweden

Future food systems will be shaped by policymakers and stakeholders through decisions taken at different levels. Scientists Karlsson et al. used a participatory approach, where researchers in agronomy, animal science, nutrition, and systems analysis and stakeholders worked together in an iterative manner, to develop a future food vision for the Nordic countries Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. They reckon that in the future, organic farming and limited livestock production will provide food for a large population while reducing environmental impacts.

Intercrops improve drought resistance in young rubber trees

Picture copyright Clermont-Dauphin et al.

The expansion of rubber cultivation into drought-prone areas of Northeast Thailand, calls for innovative management to increase drought resistance in young trees. Scientists Clermont-Dauphin et al. examined how intercrops affect the young tree root traits and resource availability for tree growth and survival. They found that intercrops improved drought resistance in young rubber trees.

Transforming work for transition to agro-ecology

Picture copyright Weber, Inra

Agro-ecological transition implies deep work transformations for farmers and actors. Coquil et al. review the ways these changes are studied and how such transformations can be assisted by regular advisers. They claim that the focus should be put on the reorientation of development dynamics in farming work. They also reckon that better support should accompany these reorientations during agro-ecological transition.

Maize growth limitation in subtropical regions

Picture copyright Casali et al.

Maize is increasingly being adopted by local farmers in northern Argentina, but yields are low. Scientists Casali et al. showed that rainfall at the end of summer was the primary determinant of maize yield. They reveal that tropical hybrids were able to tolerate high temperatures better than temperate hybrids. However, temperate hybrids performed better than tropical hybrids under conditions of water scarcity.

Highlighting controversies to govern the innovation pathway in Geographical Indications

Picture copyright Curk, Inra

“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.

Questioning experts to parameterize a cropping system model

Picture copyright Ballot

Models are promising tools to develop a more sustainable agriculture. Scientists Ballot et al. developed a model named PerSyst , that simulates the yields of successive crops. The model parameters are based on local expert knowledge collected from interviews. Its good predictive capacity for organic farming was demonstrated in the French “Île-de-France” region.

Managing trade-offs in Malawian cropping systems

Picture copyright Samson – CIMMYT

The income of millions of African farmers relies on maize-based cropping systems cultivated in soils often depleted of nutrients. Scientists Komarek et al. show that farms growing maize in rotation with legumes increase the stability of their profit. In contrast, such rotations have a much lower average caloric yield and use more labor than maize monoculture. Risk and labor factors must therefore be carefully evaluated before applying alternative cropping systems.