Eco-efficient approaches to land management: a case for increased integration of crop and animal production systems

R. J. Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Eco-efficiency is concerned with the efficient and sustainable use of resources in farm production and land management. It can be increased either by altering the management of individual crop and livestock enterprises or by altering the land-use system. This paper concentrates on the effects of crop sequence and rotation on soil fertility and nutrient use efficiency. The potential importance of mixed farming involving both crops and livestock is stressed, particularly when the systems incorporate biological nitrogen fixation and manure recycling. There is, however, little evidence that the trend in developed countries to farm-level specialization is being reduced. In some circumstances legislation to restrict diffuse pollution may provide incentives for more diverse eco-efficient farming and in other circumstances price premia for produce from eco-efficient systems, such as organic farming, and subsidies for the provision of environmental services may provide economic incentives for the adoption of such systems. However, change is likely to be most rapid where the present systems lead to obvious reductions in the productive potential of the land, such as in areas experiencing salinization. In other situations, there is promise that eco-efficiency could be increased on an area-wide basis by the establishment of linkages between farms of contrasting type, particularly between specialist crop and livestock farms, with contracts for the transfer of manures and, to a lesser extent, feeds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-525
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
Volume363
Issue number1491
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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