Forum: New Pathways to Sustainability in Agroecological Systems

Collection launched: 12 Feb 2015

Guest Editors:

Ricardo J. Salvador, Director and Senior Scientist, Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
V. Ernesto Méndez, Dept. of Plant and Soil Science & Environmental Program, University of Vermont

We welcome submissions of Research Articles, Policy Bridges, Practice Bridges, and Commentaries to this Forum

Agricultural systems of the future will need to withstand increasing challenges brought by climate change and much greater demands for limited resources: water, nutrients and energy. Research and creative collaborations among researchers, farmers, and other practitioners demonstrate new approaches to improve the function and resilience of plant- and animal-based agroecosystems. These approaches also increasingly examine how social dimensions of agrifood systems offer new opportunities to improve health, communities and livelihoods. This Elementa Forum invites researchers and practitioners to share their work addressing biophysical and socio-cultural questions, approaches and leverage points to help define pathways to sustainability in agroecological systems. The Forum launched with a Commentary by Matt Liebman and Lisa Shulte Moore of Iowa State University, presenting their work on the role of increased biodiversity and other agroecological approaches in improving farm productivity and landscape ecosystem services. Their analyses pose key questions to prompt other researchers and practitioners to share their ideas and work, including:

  • How does increased biodiversity affect ecological function and resilience? How can this information be used to promote crop productivity and build natural capital over the long term? What is the value of an agroecological approach to agriculture, such as increased crop and non-crop diversity, compared to other approaches?
  • What kinds of policies, informal governance structures and educational activities support the adoption of regenerative, diversified agroecological approaches?
  • What strategies can be employed to garner greater cooperation among scientists, farmers, and other stakeholders in answering these questions at farm, landscape, and regional scales? 

We welcome additional submissions of Research Articles, Review Articles, Policy Bridges, Practice Bridges, and Commentaries that address these and related questions.

Although Elementa has no page limit for submitted manuscripts, please find below broad guidance on page length for article types for this forum:

  • Research Articles and Review Articles – We suggest an approximate length of 15–25 pages of double-spaced body text, excluding tables, figures and references.
  • Policy Bridge and Practice Bridge – Recommended length is approximately 10–15 pages of double-spaced body text, excluding tables, figures and references.
  • Commentary - Recommended length is approximately 8–12 pages of double-spaced body text, excluding tables, figures and references.

Accepting submissions

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Which diet makes the best use of farmland? You might be surprised

July 22, 2016 - Editor's note: This piece was produced in collaboration with the academic journal Elementa . It is based on "Carrying capacity of U.S. agricultural land: Ten diet scenarios," published July 22 at Elementa. Vegetarian? Omnivore? Vegan? What should we eat if we want to feed a growing population while minimizing the need to farm more land?

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Shifting from two-crop cycle can produce profits and environmental benefits Seth Watkins has impressive Iowa agriculture bona fides: He's a fourth-generation farmer. He raises 600 cows and tends 3,200 acres east of Clarinda in southwest Iowa. His grandmother, Jessie Field Shambaugh, founded 4-H.

Collection Articles

Research Article
Farmer perceptions of climate change risk and associated on-farm management strategies in Vermont, northeastern United States
Rachel E. Schattman, David Conner, V. Ernesto Méndez

Research Article
Peasant coffee in the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, Mexico: A critical evaluation of sustainable intensification and market integration potential
Anne Cristina de la Vega-Leinert, Ludger Brenner, Susanne Stoll-Kleemann

Policy Bridge
California’s drought as opportunity: Redesigning U.S. agriculture for a changing climate
Katlyn S. Morris, Gabriela Bucini

Review
Participatory plant breeding and organic agriculture: A synergistic model for organic variety development in the United States
Adrienne C. Shelton, William F. Tracy

Research Article
Carrying capacity of U.S. agricultural land: Ten diet scenarios
Christian J. Peters, Jamie Picardy, Amelia F. Darrouzet-Nardi, Jennifer L. Wilkins, Timothy S. Griffin, Gary W. Fick

Policy Bridge
Toward thick legitimacy: Creating a web of legitimacy for agroecology
Maywa Montenegro de Wit, Alastair Iles

Commentary
Crop domestication, global human-mediated migration, and the unresolved role of geography in pest control
Yolanda H. Chen 

Review
Beyond yields: Climate change effects on specialty crop quality and agroecological management
Selena Ahmed, John Richard Stepp

Commentary
Sustainable commercialization of new crops for the agricultural bioeconomy
N.R. Jordan, K. Dorn, B. Runck, P. Ewing, A. Williams, K.A. Anderson, L. Felice, K. Haralson, J. Goplen, K. Altendorf, A. Fernandez, W. Phippen, J. Sedbrook, M. Marks, K. Wolf, D. Wyse, G. Johnson

Research Article
Habitat eradication and cropland intensification may reduce parasitoid diversity and natural pest control services in annual crop fields
Deborah K. Letourneau, Sara G. Bothwell Allen, Robert R. Kula, Michael J. Sharkey, John O. Stireman III

Research Article
Facilitators & barriers to organic waste and phosphorus re-use in Montreal
Geneviève S. Metson, Elena M. Bennett

Research Article
Audits and agrarianism: The moral economy of an alternative food network
Liz Carlisle 

Commentary
Enhancing agroecosystem performance and resilience through increased diversification of landscapes and cropping systems
Matt Liebman, Lisa A. Schulte

Practice Bridge
Building student capacity to lead sustainability transitions in the food system through farm-based authentic research modules in sustainability sciences (FARMS)
Selena Ahmed, Alexandra Sclafani, Estephanie Aquino, Shashwat Kala, Louise Barias, Jaime Eeg