February 2010

From the Food Climate Research Network

This briefing paper explores some of the arguments surrounding the relationship between what we feed and how we rear farm animals, and the availability and accessibility of food for human consumption. Does livestock production foster or hinder food security? In what ways are the contributions of intensive and extensive systems to food security different?

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From the Food Climate Research Network

The purpose of this briefing paper is to explore the different ways in which one might view the contributions that livestock in intensive and extensive systems make to greenhouse gas emissions. Why do people draw different conclusions about intensive versus extensive systems? How far do these conclusions reflect differing approaches to quantifying emissions, to considering land use, and to accepting future demand for animal source foods?

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Documents related to the consultation can be found on the FAO web site.


Smart Investments in Sustainable Food Production: Revisiting Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems

M. Herrero P. K. Thornton, A. M. Notenbaert, S. Wood, S. Msangi, H. A. Freeman, D. Bossio, J. Dixon, M. Peters, J. van de Steeg, J. Lynam,  P. Parthasarathy Rao, S. Macmillan, B. Gerard, J. McDermott, C. Seré, M. Rosegrant

Farmers in mixed crop-livestock systems produce about half of the world’s food. In small holdings around the world, livestock are reared mostly on grass, browse, and nonfood biomass from maize, millet, rice, and sorghum crops and in their turn supply manure and traction for future crops. Animals act as insurance against hard times and supply farmers with a source of regular income from sales of milk, eggs, and other products. Thus, faced with population growth and climate change, small-holder farmers should be the first target for policies to intensify production by carefully managed inputs of fertilizer, water, and feed to minimize waste and environmental impact, supported by improved access to markets, new varieties, and technologies.

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Volume 32, Issue 1, Pages 1-120 (January 2010)

This special issue is the product of the First International Symposium on Farming Systems Design organized in September 2007 in Catania, Italy by the European and American Societies for Agronomy (ESA and ASA), the International Environmental Modelling and Software Society and the International Farming Systems Association.

The challenge is ‘to produce methods and tools that can be used locally by applied researchers and extension specialists to adapt cropping systems in collaboration with farmers…
From mono-criteria to multi-criteria design. Even if the production function of cropping systems remains a major pillar of sustainability in many regions of the world, it has to be combined with an increasing number of other assessment criteria related to the negative externalities, environmental and social services of agriculture.
From field scale to multi-scale design. For several of the processes to be manipulated in the design of these multi-functional cropping systems, the proper scale at which they operate is often larger than field scale. Examples are the landscape scale for disease management or the farm scale for socio-economics. The challenge of agronomic research is to keep the field as the biophysical unit of crop management, while developing methods and knowledge for up- and down-scaling with the traditional (farm) and new (landscape, watershed, natural ecosystems) embedding and contextual aspects of cropping systems.
From stable to unstable environment. Designing new cropping systems is a long process and it occurs in a rapidly changing environment. This is exemplified by climate but also by the economy (prices and policies) and the changing demands and functions that society assigns to agricultural systems. The design process has therefore to integrate objectives of the resilience and flexibility of cropping systems in an unpredictable environment.’ J. Wery,  and J.W.A. Langeveld, guest editors

Documents related to first week contributions to the consultation can be found on the FAO web site.

For a brief summary of week 1: Brief_Summary_Theme1

Based on work completed in 2007, as part of the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture, the articles in this special issue of ‘Agricultural Water Management’ (April 2010) provide an updated perspective on the investments and interventions needed to improve both irrigated and rainfed agriculture, and to achieve global food security goals. Furthermore, the authors shed light on the challenges and opportunities we must seize without delay, if we are to feed the world successfully by 2050 and beyond.

See the table of content of this special issue

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