Agronomy for Sustainable Development



Legumes build more homes for friendly bacteria

Legumes are plant species that can fix atmospheric nitrogen, and thus legumes do not need costly and polluting fertilisers. Such an advantage is provided by special bacteria that live in small, round homes, named nodules, which are built by the plant in the roots. Basically, plants provide the home and food for bacteria, and, in return the bacteria transform atmospheric nitrogen into plant-edible nitrogen. Plant physiologists Voisin et al. study hypernodulating legumes, that are plants that have more homes to host bacteria, to design new species needing less fertilisers.

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How to fight pests without pesticides ?

Most classical pesticides are now found in almost every media such as water, air, food and drinks, thus threatening human health. Moreover, those pesticides are inefficient in the long run because pests adapt to pesticides fast. There is therefore a need for guidelines explaining how to reduce pesticide usage and develop new strategies. Barzman et al. propose eight principles of integrated pest management (IPM). They show in particular that the complexity of farming systems can improve pest management.

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Rice-duck farming, a win-win strategy

Organic farming aims at reducing the use of mineral fertilisers and pesticides, and producing safe and tasty food. Agronomists Pirdashti et al. explain that growing ducks in rice field has many benefits such as weed control and fertilisation by ducks and high quality rice and duck meat.

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Microbes as biofertilisers

Classical fertilisers are expensive and are polluting waters when applied in excess. Therefore scientists are actually seeking sustainable alternatives such as biofertilisers. Megali et al. show that research reports on ‘effective microorganisms’, a commercial mixture of bacteria and yeast, conclude on an overall positive effect of this biofertiliser on crop yields. Nevertheless, effective microorganisms also induces higher vulnerability to insect attack in cornfields.

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Overlooked free benefits of agriculture

Farming does not provide only food to humans. Sustainable agriculture indeed offer many free services named Ecosystem Services, such as climate regulation, water conservation, pollution remediation and social enhancement. Rapidel et al. explain how farming system influences ecosystem services.

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Apps for less pests in agriculture

Crop management is a complex task because crop yields depend on hardly predictable factors such as climate change and pest occurrence. A solution is to develop apps that help farmers and agronomists to take the best decision for farming practices. Damos reviews decision tools based upon pest and climate data.

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Ecological engineering for sustainable agriculture

Ecosystems could provide many beneficial services to agriculture. But the main question is actually how to apply ecological principles to crop management.  Rey et al. provide guidelines deduced from the analysis of case studies.

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How to design agroecological farming?

Industrial agriculture has improved yields but has also induced many negative impacts such as pesticide pollution, greenhouse emissions and soil erosion. Agroecology is a promising alternative that foster the use of biodiversity instead of chemicals. However switching from industrial to agroecological farming is risky because there are actually few guidelines to optimize a such change. Agronomists Duru et al. review the issues of using biodiversity for agriculture. They also propose to design ecological farming at the local level with farmers.

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