Books  Sustainable Development  Agriculture & Food 

Agriculture as a Mimic of Natural Ecosystems

Series: Current Plant Science & Biotechnology in Agriculture Volume: 37

Edited By: EC Lefroy, RJ Hobbs, MH O'Connor and JS Pate


Hardback | Dec 1999 | #108178 | ISBN: 0792359658
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £237.50 $290/€267 approx

About this book

This book critically examines the idea that the sustainability of agriculture could be improved by mimicking the structure and processes occurring in natural ecosystems. Researchers from around the world present comparative studies of multi-species farming systems, natural ecosystems and conventional agriculture. Case studies from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North and South America examine the implications of increasing the complexity of farming systems on water and nutrient cycling, productivity and resilience.Theoretical issues discussed include the role of biodiversity in agriculture, the trade-off between perenniality and productivity, the choice to integrate or segregate production and conservation in an agricultural landscape, and the social and economic challenges to adopting complex farming systems. One section is devoted to the application of this concept in southern Australia, where 15 million hectares of land are expected to be affected by salinity by the middle of the next century unless there is a significant change in agricultural practice.


Part 1: Consulting the genius of place. 2. Developing high seed-yielding perennial polycultures as a mimic of mid-grass prairie; W. Jackson, L. Jackson. 3. From genomes to ecosystems to human communities; W. Jackson. Part 2: The ecosystem mimic concept. 4. Natural systems as models for the design of sustainable systems of land use; J.J. Ewel. 5. How much biodiversity is enough? A.R. Main. 6. Moving from descriptive to prescriptive ecology; R.J. Hobbs, S.J. Morton. Part 3: Case studies of multi-species systems. 7. The dehesa system of southern Spain and Portugal as a natural ecosystem mimic; R. Joffre, et al. 8. Multispecies cropping systems in Central India: predicting productivity, stability, resilience, and ecological sustainability; B.R. Trenbath. 9. Why tree-crop interactions in agroforestry seem at odds with tree-grass interactions in tropical savannahs; C.K. Ong, R.R.B. Leakey. 10. Can the ecosystem mimic hypotheses be applied to farms in African savannahs? M. van Noordwijk, C.K. Ong. 11. The role of soil community composition in ecosystem processes: Comparing agricultural and natural ecosystems; D.A. Neher. 12. The problem of irrigated horticulture: matching the biophysical efficiency with the economic efficiency; R.J. Stirzaker. Part 4: Application of the ecosystem mimic concept to southern Australian agriculture. 13. Towards achieving functional ecosystem mimicry with respect to water cycling in southern Australian agriculture. (Part contents).

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