Toward Restoration of Ecosystem Function and Livelihoods on Grazed Agroecosystems
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Crop Science Society of America | 5585 Guilford Rd., Madison, WI 53711 USA All rights reserved. While modern technology, knowledge, and organization have greatly increased agricultural productivity, there has been insufficient regard for sustainability and overall efficiency. Substantial changes need to be made to current agricultural systems to decrease their negative impacts on humans and natural resources while addressing the goal of meeting global food needs into the future. This paper outlines a framework to improve understanding of how to manage natural resources sustainably by bridging the gap between single-discipline, reductionist research and effective resource management. This framework entails combining small-scale reductionist research with complementary whole-systems research and working in collaboration with those farmers who excel in improving the environment and obtaining superior economic returns. Most current research does not generate knowledge that translates automatically into producing desirable and sustainable results from grazingland ecosystems, especially across managed landscapes or at watershed scales. Leading managers achieve their goals by the way they allocate resources, use different technologies and knowledge, and adaptively change these elements as circumstances warrant. To help managers achieve superior results, integrative and multidisciplinary research needs to be conducted to understand how to achieve ecological, economic, and social goals on managed landscapes. Improving sustainability entails developing and using regenerative agricultural systems to include (i) more efficient use of energy and other inputs, (ii) calculation of the full costs to society of farm practices and inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, (iii) routine life-cycle analysis and costing, (iv) high levels of management expertise, and (v) high ecosystem biodiversity, function, and resilience.
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