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Aligning land use with land potential


Current agricultural land use is dominated by an emphasis on provisioning services by applying energy-intensive inputs through relatively uniform production systems across variable landscapes. This approach to agricultural land use is not sustainable.

In a recent paper in Agricultural & Environmental Letters, researchers suggest integrated agricultural systems (IAS) can play a central role in achieving sustainable use of agricultural land.

Integrated agricultural systems represent a form of agriculture whereby multiple agricultural enterprises interact in space and/or time, and the interactions can result in synergistic resource transfer among enterprises.

An emphasis on multiple enterprises makes IAS well-suited for future growing conditions, as broadened production portfolios can serve to enhance adaptability to increasingly variable weather and market conditions. Moreover, adoption of IAS could facilitate improved alignment of land use with land potential because of an expanded range of management options, allowing for greater flexibility in managing for unique opportunities and degradation risks associated with each type of land.

Factors affecting the expression of land potential into land use, with associated ecosystem service outcomes and feedbacks.

Greater adoption of IAS could result in a transition towards multi-functional agricultural landscapes, improved delivery of multiple ecosystem services, and ultimately, a more sustainable agriculture. Achieving IAS adoption, however, requires removing barriers, including making available the required information for their effective use.

Read the full open access paper in AEL.