Nature SustainabilityView Journal Article / Working Paper
Nearly one-third of the world’s farms have adopted more environmentally friendly practices while continuing to be productive, according to a global assessment by 17 scientists in five countries.
The researchers analysed farms that use some form of “sustainable intensification,” a term for various practices that use land, water, biodiversity, labour, knowledge and technology to both grow crops and reduce environmental impacts like pesticide pollution, soil erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Writing in the journal Nature Sustainability, the researchers estimate that nearly one-tenth of the world’s farmland is under some form of sustainable intensification, often with dramatic results. They have seen that the new practices can improve productivity, biodiversity and ecosystem services while lowering farmer costs. For example, they document how West Africa farmers have increased yields of maize and cassava; some 100,000 farmers in Cuba increased their productivity 150 percent while cutting their pesticide use by 85 percent.