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Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 86; doi:10.3390/su9010086

Agroecology and Ecological Intensification. A Discussion from a Metabolic Point of View

Agroecosystems History Lab, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, 41013 Seville, Spain
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Academic Editor: Jennifer Reeve
Received: 26 November 2016 / Revised: 23 December 2016 / Accepted: 5 January 2017 / Published: 10 January 2017
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Abstract

This paper documents the origin and conceptual ambiguity of the terms Sustainable, Ecological and Agroecological Intensification. It defines the concept of Ecological Intensification from an agroecological perspective, and examines in energy terms whether it may be sustainable. To illustrate the theory, we apply Land Cost of Sustainable Agriculture (LACAS) methodology to Spanish agriculture, which is representative of Mediterranean agroclimatic conditions. As a result, we demonstrate the impossibility of generalizing an extensive Organic Farming (OF) scenario under the techniques currently used by organic farmers. This is due to the fact that it would bring about a reduction of 13% in agricultural production. Which necessarily means that OF has to be intensified under agroecological criteria. This option is also explored in two scenarios. As a result, we show that it is possible to compensate the yield gap between OF and conventional agriculture by implementing low-entropy internal loop strategies which reduce the land cost of generating the necessary nitrogen flows. However, these cannot exceed the limits established by the structure of Spanish territory. That is, agroecological intensification cannot be prolonged indefinitely over time since it is limited by the land available. View Full-Text
Keywords: land cost of sustainability; organic farming; Spain; Agroecological Intensification land cost of sustainability; organic farming; Spain; Agroecological Intensification
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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González de Molina, M.; Guzmán Casado, G.I. Agroecology and Ecological Intensification. A Discussion from a Metabolic Point of View. Sustainability 2017, 9, 86.

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