Agriculture accounts for about 70 percent of freshwater withdrawals from lakes, rivers, and aquifers. And agriculture is the direct driver for approximately 80 percent of deforestation across the globe.
Fortunately, many farmers and researchers are investigating effective ways to reduce—and even reverse—the environmental footprint of agriculture. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlight the Linking of farmland Biodiversity to Ecosystem services for effective ecological intensification ( read LIBERATION). Untied Nations Agenda 21
Food production need to increase 70 percent by 2050, according to FAO. Ecological intensification of agriculture—achievement of high yields through increasingly relying on ecosystem services instead of external inputs—will will be critical to meeting these goals. Living with the LAND
Insect pollination an ecological service provided by nature (bees) benefits farmers. Giovanni Tamburini, published in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment and found that insect pollination was able to compensate for low levels of fertilizer application, indicating a potential economic value of ecosystem services to farmers.
Jules Pretty, a Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex, research on integrated pest management (IPM) in Asia and Africa showed of 85 projects in 24 countries found that the majority of farmer education projects simultaneously decreased pesticide use and increased yields. Farmer field schools “allow farmers to test their own fields and run experiments to challenge received wisdoms,” says Pretty. “They have the additional advantage of forming social capital by bringing together interested stakeholders in local communities.”
According to Dr. Harpinder Sandhu, lead author of a study on the value of ecosystem services published in PeerJ, an online scientific and medical journal, “nature provides many benefits to people, which we call ecosystem services. Current modern agricultural systems ignore these contributions of nature and are reliant on agrochemical inputs.” Sandhu’s research found that the economic value of ecosystem services—specifically nitrogen mineralization and biological control of pests—could shortly exceed the input costs of pesticides and fertilizers on the global scale, even if adopted on only 10 percent of farmland worldwide.
These researchers and many others are laying the groundwork for creating a global shift toward ecological intensification as Permaculture and Organic farming and Permaculture and organic organizations around the world are taking the lead on protecting both the natural environment and local food systems through science-based advocacy and practice.
Agroforestry – small family farm resilience.
Assessment of ecosystem services and beneﬁts in village landscapes
– A case study from Burkina Faso – Hanna Sinaren, Line J. Gordon, Elin Enfors Kautsky – Stockholm University – Science Digest