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New research article on perennial agriculture

Hand holding crops. Photo.

In their recently published paper, Wim Carton and Lennart Olsson argue that perennial polycultures informed by natural ecosystems promise more sustainable agroecosystems – that has the potential to revitalize the economic foundation of farming and hence rural societies. The paper was published together with the Land Institute in Kansas, USA.

Modern agriculture is associated with numerous environmental predicaments, such as land degradation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emission. Socio-economically, it is characterized by a treadmill of technological change, increased mechanization, and economic consolidation, while depressing economic returns to farmers.

A root cause is the dominance of annual plants cultivated in monocultures. Annual crops require the yearly clearing of vegetation resulting in soil erosion and other forms of ecosystem degradation. Monocultures are susceptible to agricultural pests and weeds.

By contrast, perennial polycultures informed by natural ecosystems, promise more sustainable agroecosystems with the potential to also revitalize the economic foundation of farming and hence rural societies.

To the article (open access); Is the future of agriculture perennial? Imperatives and opportunities to reinvent agriculture by shifting from annual monocultures to perennial polycultures in Global Sustainability,

About the researchers

Lennart Olsson is Professor of Geography at LUCSUS. He is involved in a number of research projects relating to perennials. His research fields include human-nature interactions in the context of land degradation, climate change and food security in Africa and globally.

To Lennart Olsson's personal page.

Wim Carton is a researcher at LUCSUS. His primary research focus is on the political ecology of climate change mitigation in carbon forestry and agriculture, and related discussions on negative emissions in climate policy.

To Wim Carton's personal page.