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Diversity for resilience : multi-scale application of agro-ecology

Jones, H., Alhomedhi, A., Bishop, J., Brak, B., Brown, R., Lukac, M., Roberts, R., Varah, A. and Potts, S. (2013) Diversity for resilience : multi-scale application of agro-ecology. Aspects of Applied Biology, 121. pp. 17-24. ISSN 0265-1491

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Abstract/Summary

The integration of ecological principles into agricultural systems presents major opportunities for spreading risk at the crop and farm scale. This paper presents mechanisms by which diversity at several scales within the farming system can increase the stability of production. Diversity of above- and below-ground biota, but also genetic and phenotypic diversity within crops, has an essential role in safeguarding farm production. Novel mixtures of legume-grass leys have been shown to potentially provide significant benefits for pollinator and decomposer ecosystem services but to realise the greatest improvements carefully tailored farm management is needed such as mowing or grazing time, and the type and depth of cutivation. Complex farmland landscapes such as agroforestry systems have the potential to support pollinator abundance and diversity and spread risk across production enterprises. At the crop level, early results indicate that the vulnerability of pollen development, flowering and early grain set to abiotic stress can be ameliorated by managing flowering time through genotypic selection, and through the buffering effects of pollinators. Finally, the risk of sub-optimal quality in cereals can be mitigated through integration of near isogenic lines selected to escape specific abiotic stress events. We conclude that genotypic, phenotypic and community diversity can all be increased at multiple scales to enhance resilience in agricultural systems.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Biodiversity, Crops and Agroecosystems Division > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:37263
Uncontrolled Keywords:Diversity, resilience, resistance, ecosystem, biodiversity, agriculture, crop
Publisher:Association of Applied Biologists

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