In the last few decades, a great deal has been written on the use of sustainable agriculture to improve the resilience of ecosystem services to climate change. However, no tangible and systematic evidence exists on how this agriculture would participate in alleviating impacts on vulnerable rural communities. This paper provides a narrative systematic review (SR) integrated with a bibliometric analysis and a concept network analysis to determine how, in this changing climate, sustainable agriculture can increase the resilience of agrosystems. Our search ranged from the date of the first relevant article until the end of 2018. The results generated demonstrated the following: (a) Only single practices and methods have been studied to assess the impacts on single ecosystem services; (b) Soil quality and health are considered a key indicator of sustainable agriculture; (c) Although the assessed practices and methods were shown to improve the biodiversity of agrosystems, which makes them more resilient to extreme climate events, we are still far from developing interdisciplinary and multidimensional agriculture that integrates all management aspects and generates a full range of ecosystem services. In conclusion, this study addressed the following recommendations for the scientific community and policymakers to orient future research strategies and efforts: (a) The integration of all agrosystem services into sustainable management using an ecosystem-based approach on a life-cycle basis using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method; (b) Improving the scientific understanding of traditional knowledge to facilitate greater synergy and further integration; (c) The unification of assessment methods and indicators for the quantification of impacts; (d) The creation of a platform to share, monitor, screen, and approve assessments and evaluations of sustainable agriculture by region.
The frequency and intensity of drought, extreme events and high wind velocities in South Africa are expected to increase in the next century as a result of the changing climate. The National Water Resource Strategy 2 (NWRS2) has set out the general and strategic directions for water resources management in the country for the next 20 years. However, the strategy does not draw a framework tailored specifically for agricultural use, with specific measures and goals. Therefore, to reach sustainability of water in agriculture, four major strategic goals are suggested, on which research institutions can focus and promote through good governance. The strategy emphasises: (1) crop research to find new drought-and heat- tolerant and resistant breeds and varieties; (2) intensified research in agricultural practices; (3) increasing the efficiency of water use within agriculture; and (4) integrating all these strategic goals within a sustainable research framework. Finally, the research calls for rapid action and implementation.
Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are described in the literature as having a significant role in securing crop management of modern agriculture in conditions of abiotic and biotic stressors. A joint field experiment was carried out to assess the role of seaweed-based extracts in pear trees and to test the “less for more” theory, which consists of getting more and better agricultural produce using fewer innovative inputs. The trials took place on two production seasons (from March till September 2018–2019) and the selected case study was on a pear orchard (Pyrus communis L. cv. Abate Fètel) in Emilia Romagna (Italy) by Fondazione Navarra and Timac Agro Italia S.p.A. Results demonstrate that, depending on the yearly climate conditions, it was possible to substantially reduce the primary nutrients by 35–46% and total fertilisation units applied by 13% and significantly improve quantitative and qualitative production indicators (average weight of fruits (5%) and total yield (19–55%)). Results also confirm a positive correlation between plant growth regulators and agronomic efficiency of pears which increased between five and nine times compared to the conventional nutrition programme. These outcomes constitute scientific evidence for decision making in farm management.
Strawberries are a high value crop in the UK soft fruit sector, with the majority of production grown at field-scale and under protected (polytunnel) conditions. Despite its importance to the rural economy, there is surprisingly little published scientific evidence on the economics of irrigated strawberry production and the value of water in this horticultural sector. A survey of growers, supplemented by secondary data and industry sources, shows considerable variation in key physical and financial performance indicators, both within and between different strawberry production systems, as well as evidence of good practice. Water application depths ranged widely from 800 to over 2,000 m 3 ha-1 according to grower and crop variety. Irrigation costs typically range between £1.30 and £2.50 m-3 of water applied, highest where storage reservoirs and public water supplies are used. The average value of irrigation water for strawberry net of costs was about £6 m-3 , much higher than for field crops such as potatoes. The importance of a reliable water supply to support irrigated strawberry production is highlighted. Climate change and growing pressures on water resources are likely to force a greater interest in irrigation economics in the soft fruit sector, especially in the face of restrictions on summer abstraction and rising competition and charges for using public water supply.
The economy of Apulia Region largely depends on agriculture but the scarce water resources are the main factor threatening the sustainable production of this sector. This paper describes a geographical information system (GIS) based water balance tool that integrates maps of crops, climate and soil parameters with various scenarios of cropping pattern and farming practice changes. The aim is to assess the implication of these scenarios on the spatial and volumetric water needs of the region's irrigated agriculture. The total net volumetric irrigation needs, under current land use and full irrigation practices, were estimated on an average year to be 973 million m 3 . The deficit irrigation practices currently used in Capitanata water districts can save a volume of 302 million m 3 if they are extrapolated over the entire region. Based on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a replacement of 30% of the actual tomato areas in Foggia Province with sunflowers (energy crop) or durum wheat (rainfed crop) has potential water saving of 9 million m 3 and 67 million m 3 , respectively. An additional 103 million m 3 of water saving may be obtained through modernisation of the vineyards' growing practices. Findings of this paper could be used to address the agricultural policies towards a sustainable use of the scarce fresh water.
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