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Effect of crop management practices on the sustainability and environmental impact of organic and low input food production systems

Authors
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Biodiversity And Ecosystem Services
Disciplines
  • Agricultural Science
  • Ecology
  • Geography

Abstract

While organic farming can reduce many of the environmental problems caused by agriculture, organic farming also includes some practices which are questionable in terms of environmental effects. Organic farming practices (rotations, fertilisation regimes, cover crop use) can differ significantly and this leads to large differences in its environmental effects. This leaves considerable scope to improve the environmental effects of organic farming. The environmental aspects of organic farming are discussed, and model simulations are used to illustrate how even moderate changes in organic rotations can have large effects on sustainability, here measured by a simple index of nitrogen lost by leaching relative to nitrogen harvested by the crops. In WP3.3.4 we are working to improve model simulation of organic rotations, and in WP7.1 we are making environmental assessment of organic cropping practices tested in the QLIF project, using model simulations and other approaches.

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