85837 From Organic to Agro-Ecosystem Research a Challenge.

See more from this Division: Innovations in Organic Food Systems for Sustainable Production and Enhanced Ecosystem Services
See more from this Session: Innovations in Organic Food Systems: Research and Innovation Challenges in Organic Production for Sustainable Development and Ecosystem Services
Sunday, November 2, 2014: 10:30 AM
Renaissance Long Beach, Renaissance Ballroom III-IV
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Urs Niggli, FIBL, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Frick, SWITZERLAND
The challenge for agriculture is to reduce the trade-offs between productivity and long-term sustainability. Organic agriculture is a practical example of this approach. It is characterized as being less driven by off-farm inputs and better embedded in ecosystem functions while not exhausting them. The literature on public goods and non-commodity outputs of organic farms is overwhelming. Publications address the positive effects of organic farming on soil fertility, biodiversity and the protection of the natural resources soil, water and air. As a consequence, organic agriculture is less productive. Meta-analyses show that organic yields range between 0.75 and 0.8 of conventional agriculture. In contrast, examples from disadvantaged sites and climates show equal or, in the case of subsistence farming in Sub-Saharan Africa, higher productivity of organic farms.

There reasons for scientists to be involved in organic farming research are: i) Organic agriculture is a good model for productive and sustainable food systems. Socio-economic research and modelling within this well-defined system provides information that can be generalized for other sustainable food and farming systems. ii) Organic agriculture lacks behind in innovation because R&D addressing specific bottlenecks has been underfunded for decades. Therefore, the potential for improving the performance of organic agriculture through research is huge. iii) The original boundaries of organic farming might need some modernization in the light of the progresses in ecological, bio-molecular, material, engineering and ICT sciences. Yet, a reshaping of organic agriculture towards being less driven by traditional values and more oriented towards environmental and agro-ecological goals is a challenge.

See more from this Division: Innovations in Organic Food Systems for Sustainable Production and Enhanced Ecosystem Services
See more from this Session: Innovations in Organic Food Systems: Research and Innovation Challenges in Organic Production for Sustainable Development and Ecosystem Services
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