Research Digest

A roundup of Permaculture related research.

Perspectives: Agroecology as an alternative vision to Climate-smart Agriculture

Taken together, agroecology and food sovereignty represent an alternative paradigm to Climate-smart Agriculture and conventional development. This article focuses on the more transformative elements of agroecology and food sovereignty to clearly identify overlaps and divergences with Climate-smart Agriculture and highlight its incompatibilities with conventional development. It provides a fantastic introduction to one of the most important debates in contemporary agriculture.

Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus

NEW REPORT: 'An overwhelming case for action' - expert panel identifies unacceptable toll of food and farming systems on human health. Industrial food and farming systems are making people sick in a variety of ways, and are generating staggering human and economic costs - according to a major new report from the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). Decisive action can be taken on the basis of what we know, the Panel found, but is held back by the unequal power of food system actors to set the terms of debate and to influence policy.

 
FAO organized the regional Symposium on Agroecology for Europe and Central Asia in Budapest from 23 to 25 November 2016, attended by over 180 participants from 41 countries. The Symposium participants formulated 37 recommendations to develop agroecology for sustainable food and agricultural systems in Europe and Central Asia (see Annex 1 of this report). This summary reflects the discussions among participants on the following five topics:
Agroecological concepts, systems and practices,
Research, innovation, knowledge sharing and agroecological movements,
Agroecology and natural resources in a changing climate: water, land, biodiversity and territories,
Agroecology and sustainable food systems,
Public policies to develop agroecology and promote transition.

THE POTENTIAL OF PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLES IN THE AGRIFOOD TRANSITION

The main question for this research was : How can a production system based on permaculture principles contribute to the agrifood transition? This study answered this question by comparing a permaculture system with a conventional potato system. The Unique Selling Points of permaculture were identified, which determine the future potential of permaculture. Due to its diversity and inherent social and ecological values, permaculture is expected to be able to respond well to future bioclimatic conditions and consumer demands, which conventional systems are less likely to excel in. The underlying ethics and principles foster resilience and flexibility and can be applied in any system, permaculture or not.

Cover Crops Increase Destruction of Weed Seed in Fields, Says Study 

Cover crops have been promoted for their abilities to reduce erosion and retain soil nutrients. Now there is evidence that they can significantly reduce weed seeds. Crops such as red clover, planted after a main crop’s harvest, provide cover for insects such as ground beetles that feed on weed seed. Rodents are also important consumers of weed seeds and tend to prefer foraging under the shelter provided by cover. As a result, in fields planted with cover crops, three to four times more weed seed is eliminated.