This chapter by Elias Fereres and Francisco J. Villalobos in the book Principles of Agronomy for Sustainable Agriculture argues that sustainable intensification of production would be best achieved through continuous, small productivity improvements rather than through a few revolutionary discoveries, at least in the medium term.
Lessons learned since the discovery of agriculture suggest that good agronomy as an integrative science is essential for improving the sustainability of current agricultural systems. To meet the challenges of producing sufficient, nutritious food for a growing population, future agronomists will have to combine advances in plant breeding and biotechnology with new approaches to improve the efficiency of nutrient and water use in agricultural production. There is significant potential in many areas to increase yields by bridging the gap between potential and actual yields, but as average yields increase with time, such potential diminishes. The threats of soil degradation and water scarcity will require widespread adoption of conservation practices based on strong extension efforts and the use of new IT technologies. Global change will have positive and negative outcomes in the agriculture of different regions, but will introduce more uncertainty in defining the best strategies to cope with climate variability. The most likely path to the sustainable intensification of production would be through continuous, small productivity improvements rather than through a few revolutionary discoveries, at least in the medium term.
Villalobos, F.J. and Fereres, E., 2017. Principles of Agronomy for Sustainable Agriculture. Springer
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