How to make agriculture less damaging to the environment

Publié le
20 janvier 2015

Societal concerns over climate change result in political incentives for adaptations in agriculture. But what are the alternatives to current agricultural systems? The new 3-year project ‘Eco-serve’, led by Lijbert Brussaard (Wageningen University, dept. of Soil Quality), will look for alternatives for farmers to manage ecosystem services for adaptation to climate-induced changes in drought and rainfall frequencies and intensities.

With a kick-off workshop at Wageningen, the Eco-serve project (Sustainable provisioning of multiple ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes) was launched on 15 -16 January. This project, carried out in 6 European countries is funded under the joint EU Biodiversa - FACCE JPI call ‘Promoting synergies and reducing trade-offs between food supply, biodiversity and ecosystem services’. The general objective of the research is to evaluate alternatives to current agricultural systems that confer adaptation to the agro-ecological conditions that are changing in agricultural landscapes due to increased rainfall variability under climate change.

“In this project, we will evaluate a range of agro-ecosystems across Europe for their adaptability to increased rainfall variability due to climate change. We will specifically focus on the role that functional biodiversity of plants and soil biota may play in this respect,” says Lijbert Brussaard.

Gerlinde De Deyn of the same department adds: “Depending on whether water deficit or surplus situations will become more prevalent under climate change, management of soil organic matter for higher water-holding capacity versus water infiltration will be more important. We aim to generate generic knowledge which will ultimately be applicable to different agro-ecological conditions in Europe and will do so by focusing on the (diversity of) relevant traits, and the emerging community and ecosystem properties rather than on (the diversity of) species of plants and soil organisms.”