Agroecological approaches to breeding: Crop, mixture and systems design for improved fitness, sustainable intensification, ecosystem services, and food and nutrition security

Leonard Wade

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Abstract

Agroecological approaches are designed to attain sustainable food production systems, with enhanced ecosystem function and resource efficiency, drawing from science, practice and social engagement. In addition to good management, the choice of appropriate crop and cultivar for these agroecological targets is essential. Crop and genotype selection must first focus upon agroecological fitness, which requires a close understanding of the desired crop and plant behaviour in order to achieve the productivity, sustainability and ecosystem goals. An important issue is crop design, specifically the traits and trait combinations that confer resource efficiency and ecosystem function, as well as yield and nutritional quality. The dynamics of crop response should also be considered, including patterns of adaptation to different soil constraints or management regimes, and how these patterns may vary with seasonal conditions and climate change. The necessary crop design will differ depending upon these ecosystem and management considerations. These principles can then be adapted to alternative
systems, including intercropping, relay sowing and mixtures, based upon the concepts of competition and commensalism. The products that are generated must be considered, whether grain, forage, livestock or all of these, and the associated system evaluated rather than individual efficiencies. Issues for selection in mixed systems are examined with reference to the concepts of co-evolution and joint selection, drawing from diverse examples, including underused and perennial crop forage and tree species. The identification of successful
systems will require an improved agroecological understanding as a basis for improved crop, mixture and systems design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational symposium on Agroecology for food security and nutrition 2014
EditorsStephen R. Gliessman
Place of PublicationFrance
PublisherFood and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations
Chapter5
Pages90-103
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9789251088074
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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  • Cite this

    Wade, L. (2015). Agroecological approaches to breeding: Crop, mixture and systems design for improved fitness, sustainable intensification, ecosystem services, and food and nutrition security. In S. R. Gliessman (Ed.), International symposium on Agroecology for food security and nutrition 2014 (pp. 90-103). Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.