Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Intensive farming with a climate-friendly touch: Farming/woodland mix increases yields

Date:
November 8, 2012
Source:
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Summary:
In the world of agriculture, climate protection and intensive farming are generally assumed to be a contradiction in terms. Scientists have come up with a new land development concept that could change this view.

Diversified land development: Different crops combined with hedges and wooded areas maintain soil quality and help protect the climate.
Credit: Thomas Knoke / Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

In the world of agriculture, climate protection and intensive farming are generally assumed to be a contradiction in terms. At Technische Universität München (TUM), however, scientists have come up with a new land development concept that could change this view. The new model is tailored to medium-sized farms in South America and sees farmers transitioning from large-scale monoculture to more diverse crop mixtures spread over smaller plots interspersed with wooded areas -- a switch that can bring significant financial benefits.

Each year, huge carbon stores are lost as a result of deforestation. In South America, around four million hectares of forest are cut down every year. As a result, international climate protection programs are planning to financially compensate farmers who preserve forests or plant new trees. Demand for land is rising, however. And growing need for food and energy crops will inevitably lead to conflicts of interest over fertile land in countries such as Brazil and Ecuador.

Thomas Knoke and Michael Weber at Technische Universität München (TUM) firmly believe that intensive, high-yield agricultural practices can go hand-in-hand with climate and environmental protection. The two scientists and their colleagues have developed a "diversified land-use" concept for medium-sized holdings in South America based on an idea originally developed by retired TUM professor, Wolfgang Haber. The new concept encourages farmers to move away from large-scale monocropping and plant a mix of field crops on smaller plots, while at the same time setting aside part of their land for forests and hedges. Any unused land will be reforested. The smaller plots of farmland will still be large enough for intensive farming practices using fertilizers, planting machines and harvesters. The interspersed wooded areas and hedges will protect the soil from erosion and serve as long-term carbon stores.

Knoke and Weber have evaluated the economic viability of their concept based on a typical medium-sized agricultural holding. This model hacienda comprises an area of over 116 hectares and includes croplands, wooded areas and unused land. There are around five million family-owned farms of this size on the South American continent.

Adopting this sustainable method of intensive farming initially means higher costs for farmers due to reforestation and the division of land into individual plots. However, the combination of woodland management and smaller plots of land pays off in the long term. Working lots of individual plots enables farmers to diversify and spread risk -- in much the same way as smart investors. By growing a broader portfolio of crops such as soya, sugar cane, corn and coffee, they can reduce their dependency on price fluctuations. The wooded areas also provide extra income. Smaller material from forest thinning can be used as firewood, while larger logs can be sold as building material. Depending on the crops harvested, a farm modeled on the diversified land-use method will achieve higher returns than a monocrop farm in eight years at the latest. Farmers working this new model can achieve between 19 and 25 percent more yield than they would with large-scale monoculture.

To ease the transition to diversified land development, Knoke and Weber are lobbying for start-up funding and knowledge sharing. "The associated costs, however, are the same or less than comparable measures aimed at reducing CO2 levels," explains Professor Knoke from the TUM's Institute of Forest Management. "Which makes diversified land development in line with local dynamics an effective approach to ensuring highly productive yet climate-friendly agriculture."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas Knoke, Rosa M Román-Cuesta, Michael Weber, Wolfgang Haber. How can climate policy benefit from comprehensive land-use approaches? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2012; 10 (8): 438 DOI: 10.1890/110203

Cite This Page:

Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "Intensive farming with a climate-friendly touch: Farming/woodland mix increases yields." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121108142754.htm>.
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. (2012, November 8). Intensive farming with a climate-friendly touch: Farming/woodland mix increases yields. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121108142754.htm
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "Intensive farming with a climate-friendly touch: Farming/woodland mix increases yields." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121108142754.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) — At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) — River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins