Cropping and grassland systems

1.1 Climate-resilient agriculture: is multi-scale diversification and land use extensification the key?

Convenors:
Sarah Redlich, University of Würzburg, Germany

Maria Hänsel, University of Bayreuth, Germany

In many parts of the world, high yield outputs through landscape simplification and intensified agriculture has come at environmental and societal costs. Previous research has shown that associated species decline threatens ecosystem functions that farmers rely on, such as nutrient cycling, crop pollination and the regulation of agricultural pests. But the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services may also lower the resilience of farming systems against climate change. For instance, genetically narrow monocultures and species-poor pollinator communities may be unable to adapt to extreme weather events, respectively causing yield instability and pollination deficits. Invasive pest species favoured by climate warming may not meet their match within depauperate native natural enemy communities, requiring increased pesticide application rates to cope with the sudden pest pressure. In this session we pursue the question whether genetic, crop and habitat diversification and land use extensification at farm, landscape and regional scale can result in climate-resilient and sustainable agriculture. We aim to understand how climate, land use and multilevel diversification interactively shape farmland biodiversity, ecosystem services and yields. As linking these drivers has rarely been done, our session offers the opportunity to present novel research findings that help to develop strategies for climate change mitigation and regional adaptation of farming systems.

 

1.2 Follow the shift! How research can be part of transformation in agricultural practice

Convenors:
Ralf Bloch, University for applied sciences Eberswalde, Germany
Charlotte Kling, University for applied sciences Eberswalde, Germany

A shift in agricultural practice is required to meet current and future challenges towards a climate-resilient and sustainable agricultural landscape.
However, traditional agricultural landscape research is sometimes not closely linked with decision making processes in agriculture, neither at farmers’ field nor at policy level. In fact, academic research and farmers’ needs and innovations are often detached from one another. While research usually ends with recommendations for action based on its findings, the actual implementation often take place after the research process has ended. Hence, the activities, how recommendations manifest in practice, are mostly not evaluated and not regarded as an outcome or part of the process.
Transformative research uses methods that can handle complexity in agricultural multi-actor systems. It promotes resilience by adaptation and empowerment of all actors by creating a participatory and impact-oriented setting right from the beginning. Transformation research approaches enable academia and farmers equally to jointly work as co-researchers using an interdisciplinary mixed method approach, combining for example social and natural sciences, and generating problem and transformative knowledge.
We cordially invite you to contribute to this session focusing on prerequisites for impact-oriented science-practice dialogue to enable a shift towards transformation in crop systems and how fundamental research can be used effectively in this interplay.

 

1.3 Knowledge Synthesis to obtain robust scientific evidence on the impacts of crop diversification

Convenors:
Marta Pérez-Soba, European Commission Joint Research Centre
David Makowski, INRAE, Paris, France

Crop diversification is promoted to increase biodiversity while providing various ecosystem services, through different practices such as crop rotation or intercropping. Unfortunately, the diversity of crops is being lost at an alarming pace mainly due to the intensification of agriculture. As a result, scientists and policy makers around the world have a renewed interest in promoting crop diversification. However, there is still a lack of sound scientific evidence to determine the best diversification strategy (e.g., intercropping, agroforestry, rotation) and the level of diversification required (e.g., number of crop species in a rotation) to achieve tangible environmental and climate impacts. Knowledge synthesis is a rapidly developing research field in both the environmental and health sciences for evidence‐based policy. This session will illustrate novel applications of knowledge synthesis methods, such as systematic literature reviews, meta-analysis, evidence map, text mining, to obtain robust evidence and identify knowledge gaps, about the impact of crop diversification practices on biodiversity, environment, and climate change. We will discuss their advantages and limitations, particularly to match the short term demands of policy with the best available scientific evidence. All contributions presenting the results of knowledge syntheses regarding one or more diversification strategies are welcome in this session.

 

1.4 Cropping system diversification with legumes

Convenors:
Moritz Reckling, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Germany
Frederick Stoddard, University of Helsinki, Finland
Christine Watson, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), United Kingdom
Etienne-Pascal Journet, CNRS/INRAE, France
Nynke Schulp, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Daniel Plaza-Bonilla, University of Lleida, Spain
Sonoko Bellingrath-Kimura, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany

Legumes contribute to the diversification of cropping systems and farm businesses, enhancement of sustainable diets, reduction in fertilizer and pesticide use, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, and prevention of biodiversity loss. Despite these widely recognized benefits, legume production is often low, underdeveloped or part of unsustainable systems, partly due to inadequate value chains and low yields with high fluctuations compared to cereals. To ensure food and nutritional security under climate change and reduce pressures on natural resources, the full potential of legumes to diversify agricultural systems should be utilized.
This session will contribute to further explore the potential of legumes in cropping systems by

  • identifying the contribution of relatively neglected species (e.g. soybean in cool regions),
  • evaluating novel management practices (e.g. intercropping, no-tillage),
  • using farmers’ knowledge to help close the yield gap and protein shortfall,
  • reducing the observed yield variability, and
  • optimising the environmental performance.

We call for contributions with a systems approach, where biophysical and socio-economic limitations, opportunities, and their interaction are considered. Contributions can include different methodological approaches, field experiments, modelling, surveys, co-design with farmers and other stakeholders in the value chain, and analyses of big data. We especially encourage early career scientists to use this opportunity and submit posters and presentations to this session.