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The concept of integrated systems in lower input/sustainable agriculture

  • Clive A. Edwards (a1)

Abstract

Conventional agriculture has caused economic problems associated with overproduction of crops, increased costs of energy-based inputs and lessened farm incomes. It has also produced ecological problems such as poor ecological diversity, soil erosion, and soil and water pollution. The adoption of integrated systems of agricultural production involving lower inputs of fertilizer, pesticides and cultivations can alleviate these economic and ecological problems. Such systems are dependent upon a good understanding of the nature of interactions between the four main components of such systems, which are fertilizers, pesticides, cultivations and rotations and how these interactions influence crop yields and farm income. Alternatives to energy-based inputs include legume rotations, use of waste organic matter as well as that from animals and crops, integrated pest management, pest and disease forecasting, biological and cultural pest control, living mulches and mechanical weed control, conservation tillage methods, and specialized innovative cultural techniques, including intercropping, strip cropping, undersowing, trap crops, double-row cropping. Two commercial farms in Europe operated on integrated lower input systems have increased farm incomes by 5–20 percent. Further research on such techniques is needed, as well as computer-aided management systems, appropriate extension aids and farmer education.

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The concept of integrated systems in lower input/sustainable agriculture

  • Clive A. Edwards (a1)

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