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Title: Aligning land use with land potential: The role of integrated agriculture

item Liebig, Mark
item Herrick, Jeffrey - Jeff
item Archer, David
item DOBROWOLSKI, J - National Institute Of Food And Agriculture (NIFA)
item DUIKER, SJOERD - Pennsylvania State University
item Franzluebbers, Alan
item Hendrickson, John
item Mitchell, Robert - Rob
item MOHAMED, A - National Institute Of Food And Agriculture (NIFA)
item RUSSELL, JIM - Iowa State University
item Strickland, Timothy - Tim

Submitted to: Agricultural and Environmental Letters
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/23/2017
Publication Date: 4/13/2017
Citation: Liebig, M.A., Herrick, J.E., Archer, D.W., Dobrowolski, J., Duiker, S.W., Franzluebbers, A.J., Hendrickson, J.R., Mitchell, R., Mohamed, A., Russell, J., Strickland, T.C. 2017. Aligning land use with land potential: The role of integrated agriculture. Agricultural and Environmental Letters. 2:170007.

Interpretive Summary: Integrated agricultural systems (IAS) represent a form of agriculture whereby multiple agricultural enterprises interact in space and/or time, and the interactions result in synergistic resource transfer among enterprises. An emphasis on multiple enterprises makes IAS well-suited for future growing conditions, as broadened production portfolios can serve to enhance adaptability to increasingly variable weather and market conditions. Adoption of IAS could facilitate improved alignment of land use with land potential because of an expanded range of management options, allowing for greater flexibility in managing for the unique opportunities and degradation risks associated with each type of land. Such a development could result in a transition towards multi-functional agricultural landscapes, improved delivery of multiple ecosystem services, and ultimately, a more sustainable agriculture. Achieving greater IAS adoption, however, requires removing barriers, including making available the required information for their effective use.

Technical Abstract: Contemporary agricultural land use is dominated by an emphasis on provisioning services by applying energy-intensive inputs through relatively uniform production systems across variable landscapes. This approach to agricultural land use is not sustainable. Achieving sustainable use of agricultural land should instead focus on the application of innovative management systems that provide multiple ecosystem services on lands with varying inherent qualities. Integrated agricultural systems (IAS) represent an alternative approach to prevailing land use practices whereby site-adapted enterprises are implemented in a manner to enhance synergistic resource transfer among enterprises and sustainable delivery of ecosystem services. Sustainable deployment of IAS on agricultural land involves placing the ‘right enterprise’ at the ‘right intensity’ at the ‘right time’ on the ‘right location’, with the inherent attributes of location informing management decisions associated with other variables. There is an urgent need to design IAS that enhance delivery of ecosystem services, while ensuring thresholds of inherent land potential are not exceeded.