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Special Issue "Sustainable Agriculture–Beyond Organic Farming"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2016)

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Sean Clark

Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Farm Director, Berea College, Berea, KY 40404, USA
Website1 | Website2 | E-Mail
Phone: +1-859-985-3402
Interests: farming and food systems; agroecology; organic and reduced-input agriculture; comparative environmental and economic performance of farming systems; food supply chains; biodiversity and ecosystem functions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The current conception of organic farming—as a production system based on ecological understanding and management—is the result of nearly a century of intellectual thought and dialogue, field observations and experiences, systematic experimentation, and codification of rules. Today, organic production is widely recognized as a viable alternative to conventional production under many conditions and increasingly sought out by consumers concerned about environmental issues, such as agricultural pollution, the loss of biodiversity, and soil conservation.
Considerable research supports the validity of such value-based consumer choices, but there are other areas in which inherent trade-offs exist because the current performance of organic systems often does not match that of conventional systems, such as in yield per unit of land, labor efficiency and costs of production. Further, organic standards may not explicitly or sufficiently address important concerns about climate change, animal welfare and the quality of life provided to farmers, farm workers and others in the supply chain. As our understanding of the agroecology and food systems develops how is organic farming changing and evolving? Additionally, what role can organic farming and related movements play in addressing the many and complicated food-system challenges facing society?
This Special Issue invites papers on how to build upon the significant progress of organic agriculture in order to address continuing and emerging challenges to the sustainability of food systems.

Topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • Fundamental lessons in agroecology learned from organic production systems
  • The adaptation of organic methods and certification to evolving knowledge and values
  • Integration of new and emerging knowledge and technologies into organic management
  • Supply-chain certification and communication systems dealing with environmental, social/ethical and economic aspects of food systems
  • Case studies or examples of agricutlural/food systems systematically and comprehensively addressing environmental, economic and social/ethical issues

Dr. Sean Clark
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable agriculture
  • organic farming
  • food systems
  • agroecology
  • green supply chains
  • local
  • diet
  • animal welfare
  • third-party certification
  • ecolabelling
  • fair trade
  • ethical consumerism
  • humane

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Can Organic Farming Reduce Vulnerabilities and Enhance the Resilience of the European Food System? A Critical Assessment Using System Dynamics Structural Thinking Tools
Sustainability 2016, 8(10), 971; doi:10.3390/su8100971
Received: 30 June 2016 / Revised: 5 September 2016 / Accepted: 14 September 2016 / Published: 24 September 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2202 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In a world of growing complexity and uncertainty, food systems must be resilient, i.e., able to deliver sustainable and equitable food and nutrition security in the face of multiple shocks and stresses. The resilience of the European food system that relies mostly on
[...] Read more.
In a world of growing complexity and uncertainty, food systems must be resilient, i.e., able to deliver sustainable and equitable food and nutrition security in the face of multiple shocks and stresses. The resilience of the European food system that relies mostly on conventional agriculture is a matter of genuine concern and a new approach is called for. Does then organic farming have the potential to reduce vulnerabilities and improve the resilience of the European food system to shocks and stresses? In this paper, we use system dynamics structural thinking tools to identify the vulnerabilities of the conventional food system that result from both its internal structure as well as its exposure to external disturbances. Further, we evaluate whether organic farming can reduce the vulnerabilities. We argue here that organic farming has some potential to bring resilience to the European food system, but it has to be carefully designed and implemented to overcome the contradictions between the dominant socio-economic organization of food production and the ability to enact all organic farming’s principles—health, ecology, fairness and care—on a broader scale. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Assessing the Sustainability Performance of Organic Farms in Denmark
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 957; doi:10.3390/su8090957
Received: 30 June 2016 / Revised: 16 August 2016 / Accepted: 17 September 2016 / Published: 21 September 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1098 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The growth of organic agriculture in Denmark raises the interest of both producers and consumers in the sustainability performance of organic production. The aim of this study was to examine the sustainability performance of farms in four agricultural sectors (vegetable, dairy, pig and
[...] Read more.
The growth of organic agriculture in Denmark raises the interest of both producers and consumers in the sustainability performance of organic production. The aim of this study was to examine the sustainability performance of farms in four agricultural sectors (vegetable, dairy, pig and poultry) using the sustainability assessment tool RISE 2.0. Thirty seven organic farms were assessed on 10 themes, including 51 subthemes. For one theme (water use) and 17 subthemes, a difference between sectors was found. Using the thresholds of RISE, the vegetable, dairy and pig sector performed positively for seven themes and the poultry sector for eight themes. The performance on the nutrient flows and energy and climate themes, however, was critical for all sectors. Moreover, the performance on the economic viability theme was critical for vegetable, dairy and pig farms. The development of a tool, including decisions, such as the selection of themes and indicators, reference values, weights and aggregation methods, influences the assessment results. This emphasizes the need for transparency and reflection on decisions made in sustainability assessment tools. The results of RISE present a starting point to discuss sustainability at the farm-level and contribute to an increase in awareness and learning about sustainability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Economic and Social Sustainability through Organic Agriculture: Study of the Restructuring of the Citrus Sector in the “Bajo Andarax” District (Spain)
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 918; doi:10.3390/su8090918
Received: 30 June 2016 / Revised: 21 August 2016 / Accepted: 6 September 2016 / Published: 12 September 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2823 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Over 1000 hectares of citrus fruits crops are grown in the Bajo Andarax district in Almeria (Spain). The withdrawal of EU subsidies for conventional production led to a drastic loss of economic profitability of the holdings and, consequently, the abandonment of most of
[...] Read more.
Over 1000 hectares of citrus fruits crops are grown in the Bajo Andarax district in Almeria (Spain). The withdrawal of EU subsidies for conventional production led to a drastic loss of economic profitability of the holdings and, consequently, the abandonment of most of the conventionally managed farms of the district. In this context, a restructuring of the citrus sector from conventional to organic farming was implemented as a strategic measure to achieve the long-term sustainable development of the holdings. This study examines the citrus sector of the district and performs a comprehensive evaluation of the economic sustainability of this shift from conventional to organic production. In addition, the impact of the restructuring of the sector on the social sustainability both at the farm level and at the municipality level is studied. The results of the study are of interest to other agricultural areas of compromised profitability in which a shift towards organic production can represent a viable alternative for the economic and social sustainability of the holdings. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Synergy and Transition of Recovery Efficiency of Nitrogen Fertilizer in Various Rice Genotypes under Organic Farming
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 854; doi:10.3390/su8090854
Received: 15 June 2016 / Revised: 15 August 2016 / Accepted: 22 August 2016 / Published: 29 August 2016
PDF Full-text (1685 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Despite the growing demand for organic products, research on organic farming (OF) such as genotype screening, fertilizer application and nutrition uptake remains limited. This study focused on comparisons of the apparent recovery efficiency of nitrogen fertilizer (REN) in rice grown under OF and
[...] Read more.
Despite the growing demand for organic products, research on organic farming (OF) such as genotype screening, fertilizer application and nutrition uptake remains limited. This study focused on comparisons of the apparent recovery efficiency of nitrogen fertilizer (REN) in rice grown under OF and conventional farming (CF). Thirty-two representative conventional Japonica rice varieties were field grown under five different treatments: control check (CK); organic farming with low, medium and high levels of organic fertilizer (LO, MO and HO, respectively); and CF. Comparisons of REN between OF and CF classified the 32 genotypes into four types: high REN under both OF and CF (type-A); high REN under OF and low REN under CF (type-B); low REN under OF and high REN under CF (type-C); and low REN under both OF and CF (type-D). Though the yield and REN of all the rice varieties were higher with CF than with OF, organic N efficient type-A and B were able to maintain relatively high grain yield under OF. Physiological activities in flag leaves of the four types from booting to maturity were subsequently investigated under OF and CF. Under OF, high values of soil and plant analyzer development (SPAD) and N were observed in type-B varieties, while in contrast, both indexes slowly decreased in type-C varieties under CF. Moreover, the decline in N content in type-C and D varieties was greater under OF than CF. The decrease in glutamine synthetase (GS), glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (GPT) and glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (GOT) activity in flag leaves was smaller under OF than CF in type-A and B varieties, while in contrast, type-C and D varieties showed an opposite trend. The findings suggest that OF slows the decline in key enzymes of N metabolism in organic N-efficient type rice, thus maintaining a relatively high capacity for N uptake and utilization and increasing yield during the late growth period. Accordingly, we were able to screen for varieties of rice with synergistically high REN and high grain yield under OF. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Significance of Consumer’s Awareness about Organic Food Products in the United Arab Emirates
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 833; doi:10.3390/su8090833
Received: 17 April 2016 / Revised: 1 August 2016 / Accepted: 10 August 2016 / Published: 23 August 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (762 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Awareness about negative externalities generated by conventional farming is gaining momentum with consumers around the world, opting for alternatively, namely organically, produced food products. Information about consumers’ awareness is an essential element for farmers and marketing agencies to successfully plan production that can
[...] Read more.
Awareness about negative externalities generated by conventional farming is gaining momentum with consumers around the world, opting for alternatively, namely organically, produced food products. Information about consumers’ awareness is an essential element for farmers and marketing agencies to successfully plan production that can capture a greater market share. This study discusses effective factors influencing consumers’ awareness about the benefits of organic food in the United Arab Emirates. Sample data and ordinary least square (OLS) regression techniques are applied to delineate factors influencing consumers’ awareness about organic food. The results from this regression analysis highlight the importance of specific socioeconomic determinants that change awareness about organic food products in United Arab Emirates (UAE) households. This study finds that awareness about organic food is influenced more effective factors such as gender, nationality, and education as well as income, occupation and age. These research findings apply to other economies and societies that have an increasing per capita spending on organic food, but also where people are highly sensitive to information provided about organic food. Therefore, these results are important to these research beneficiaries including food marketing planners, researchers, and agricultural and food policy makers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle An Interpretive Framework for Assessing and Monitoring the Sustainability of School Gardens
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 801; doi:10.3390/su8080801
Received: 29 June 2016 / Revised: 7 August 2016 / Accepted: 10 August 2016 / Published: 15 August 2016
PDF Full-text (1810 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
School gardens are, increasingly, an integral part of projects aiming to promote nutritional education and environmental sustainability in many countries throughout the world. In the late 1950s, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) had already developed projects to
[...] Read more.
School gardens are, increasingly, an integral part of projects aiming to promote nutritional education and environmental sustainability in many countries throughout the world. In the late 1950s, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) had already developed projects to improve the dietary intake and behavior through school and community gardens. However, notwithstanding decades of experience, real proof of how these programs contribute to improving sustainability has not been well-documented, and reported findings have mostly been anecdotal. Therefore, it is important to begin a process of collecting and monitoring data to quantify the results and possibly improve their efficiency. This study’s primary goal is to propose an interpretive structure—the “Sustainable Agri-Food Evaluation Methodology-Garden” (SAEMETH-G), that is able to quantifiably guide the sustainability evaluation of various school garden organizational forms. As a case study, the methodology was applied to 15 school gardens located in three regions of Kenya, Africa. This application of SAEMETH-G as an assessment tool based on user-friendly indicators demonstrates that it is possible to carry out sustainability evaluations of school gardens through a participatory and interdisciplinary approach. Thus, the hypothesis that the original SAEMETH operative framework could be tested in gardens has also been confirmed. SAEMETH-G is a promising tool that has the potential to help us understand school gardens’ sustainability better and to use that knowledge in their further development all over the world. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Conventional, Partially Converted and Environmentally Friendly Farming in South Korea: Profitability and Factors Affecting Farmers’ Choice
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 704; doi:10.3390/su8080704
Received: 30 May 2016 / Revised: 13 July 2016 / Accepted: 15 July 2016 / Published: 25 July 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2194 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
While organic farming is well established in Europe a nd USA, it is still catching up in Asian countries. The government of South Korea has implemented environmentally friendly farming that encompasses organic farming. Despite the promotion of environmentally friendly farming, it still has
[...] Read more.
While organic farming is well established in Europe a nd USA, it is still catching up in Asian countries. The government of South Korea has implemented environmentally friendly farming that encompasses organic farming. Despite the promotion of environmentally friendly farming, it still has a low share in South Korea and partially converted farming has emerged in some districts of South Korea. However, the partially converted farming has not yet been investigated by the government. Thus, our study implemented a financial analysis to compare the annual costs and net returns of conventional, partially converted and environmentally friendly farming in Gangwon Province. The result showed that environmentally friendly farming was more profitable with respect to farm net returns. To find out the factors affecting the adoption of environmentally friendly farming, multinomial logistic regression was implemented. The findings revealed that education and subsidy positively and significantly influenced the probability of farmers’ choice on partially converted and environmentally friendly farming. Farm size had a negative and significant relationship with only environmentally friendly farming. This study will contribute to future policy establishment for sustainable agriculture as recommended by improving the quality of fertilizers, suggesting the additional investigation associated with partially converted farmers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Integrated Multi-Trophic Recirculating Aquaculture System for Nile Tilapia (Oreochlomis niloticus)
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 592; doi:10.3390/su8070592
Received: 17 May 2016 / Revised: 16 June 2016 / Accepted: 20 June 2016 / Published: 29 June 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (4070 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Three densities of the sex-reversed male Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (20, 25, 50 fish/m3) were cultivated in an integrated multi-trophic recirculating aquaculture system (IMRAS) that involves the ecological relationship between several living organisms, i.e., phytoplankton, zooplankton, and aquatic plants. The results
[...] Read more.
Three densities of the sex-reversed male Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (20, 25, 50 fish/m3) were cultivated in an integrated multi-trophic recirculating aquaculture system (IMRAS) that involves the ecological relationship between several living organisms, i.e., phytoplankton, zooplankton, and aquatic plants. The results indicated that, by providing proper interdependency between various species of living organisms, the concentrations of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and phosphate in the system were maintained below dangerous levels for Nile tilapia throughout the cultivation period. The highest wet weight productivity of Nile tilapia of 11 ± 1 kg was achieved at a fish density of 50 fish/m3. The aquatic plants in the treatment tank could effectively uptake the unwanted nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) compounds with the highest removal efficiencies of 9.52% and 11.4%, respectively. The uptake rates of nitrogen and phosphorus by aquatic plants could be ranked from high to low as: Egeria densa > Ceratophyllum demersum > Vallisneria spiralis and Vallisneria americana > Hygrophila difformis. The remaining N was further degraded through nitrification process, whereas the remaining P could well precipitate in the soil sediment in the treatment tank. Full article
Open AccessArticle Beef Cattle Farms’ Conversion to the Organic System. Recommendations for Success in the Face of Future Changes in a Global Context
Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 572; doi:10.3390/su8060572
Received: 27 March 2016 / Revised: 5 June 2016 / Accepted: 13 June 2016 / Published: 18 June 2016
PDF Full-text (2589 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Dehesa is a remarkable agroforestry system, which needs the implementation of sustainable production systems in order to reduce its deterioration. Moreover, its livestock farms need to adapt to a new global market context. As a response, the organic livestock sector has expanded not
[...] Read more.
Dehesa is a remarkable agroforestry system, which needs the implementation of sustainable production systems in order to reduce its deterioration. Moreover, its livestock farms need to adapt to a new global market context. As a response, the organic livestock sector has expanded not only globally but also in the region in search for increased overall sustainability. However, conversions to the organic system have been commonly carried out without analyzing farms’ feasibility to do so. This analysis is necessary before implementing any new production system in order to reduce both the diversity of externalities that the variety of contexts leads to and the vulnerability of the DDehesa ecosystem to small management changes. Within this context and in the face of this gap in knowledge, the present paper analyzes the ease of such conversions and the farms’ chances of success after conversion in the face of global changes (market and politics). Different aspects (“areas of action”) were studied and integrated within the Global Conversion Index (GCI), and the legal requirement for European organic farming, organic principles, future challenges for ruminants’ production systems, as well as the lines of action for the post-2013 CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) and their impacts on the beef cattle sector were taken into account. Results revealed that farms must introduce significant changes before initiating the conversion process, since they had very low scores on the GCI (42.74%), especially with regard to health and agro-ecosystem management (principle of Ecology). Regarding rearing and animal welfare (principle of justice/fairness), farms were close to the organic system. From the social point of view, active participation in manufacturing and marketing of products should be increased. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Resilience of a Sustainability Entrepreneur in the Swedish Food System
Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 550; doi:10.3390/su8060550
Received: 28 April 2016 / Revised: 3 June 2016 / Accepted: 3 June 2016 / Published: 13 June 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1501 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Organizational resilience emphasizes the adaptive capacity for renewal after crisis. This paper explores the sustainability and resilience of a not-for-profit firm that claims to contribute to sustainable development of the food system. We used semi-structured interviews and Holling’s adaptive cycle as a heuristic
[...] Read more.
Organizational resilience emphasizes the adaptive capacity for renewal after crisis. This paper explores the sustainability and resilience of a not-for-profit firm that claims to contribute to sustainable development of the food system. We used semi-structured interviews and Holling’s adaptive cycle as a heuristic device to assess what constitutes social and sustainable entrepreneurship in this case, and we discuss the determinants of organizational resilience. The business, Biodynamiska Produkter (BP), has experienced periods of growth, conservation and rapid decline in demand, followed by periods of re-organization. Our results suggest that BP, with its social mission and focus on organic food, meets the criteria of both a social and sustainability entrepreneurial organization. BP also exhibits criteria for organizational resilience: two major crises in the 1970s and late 1990s were met by re-organization (transformation) and novel market innovations (adaptations). BP has promoted the organic food sector in Sweden, but not profited from this. In this case study, resilience has enhanced sustainability in general, but trade-offs were also identified. The emphasis on trust, local identity, social objectives and slow decisions may have impeded both economic performance and new adaptations. Since the successful innovation Ekolådan in 2003, crises have been met by consolidation rather than new innovations. Full article
Open AccessArticle Urban Cultivation and Its Contributions to Sustainability: Nibbles of Food but Oodles of Social Capital
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 409; doi:10.3390/su8050409
Received: 2 February 2016 / Revised: 25 March 2016 / Accepted: 6 April 2016 / Published: 25 April 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (239 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The contemporary interest in urban cultivation in the global North as a component of sustainable food production warrants assessment of both its quantitative and qualitative roles. This exploratory study weighs the nutritional, ecological, and social sustainability contributions of urban agriculture by examining three
[...] Read more.
The contemporary interest in urban cultivation in the global North as a component of sustainable food production warrants assessment of both its quantitative and qualitative roles. This exploratory study weighs the nutritional, ecological, and social sustainability contributions of urban agriculture by examining three cases—a community garden in the core of New York, a community farm on the edge of London, and an agricultural park on the periphery of San Francisco. Our field analysis of these sites, confirmed by generic estimates, shows very low food outputs relative to the populations of their catchment areas; the great share of urban food will continue to come from multiple foodsheds beyond urban peripheries, often far beyond. Cultivation is a more appropriate designation than agriculture for urban food growing because its sustainability benefits are more social than agronomic or ecological. A major potential benefit lies in enhancing the ecological knowledge of urbanites, including an appreciation of the role that organic food may play in promoting both sustainability and health. This study illustrates how benefits differ according to local conditions, including population density and demographics, operational scale, soil quality, and access to labor and consumers. Recognizing the real benefits, including the promotion of sustainable diets, could enable urban food growing to be developed as a component of regional foodsheds to improve the sustainability and resilience of food supply, and to further the process of public co-production of new forms of urban conviviality and wellbeing. Full article

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessFeature PaperReview Agroforestry—The Next Step in Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture
Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 574; doi:10.3390/su8060574
Received: 30 April 2016 / Revised: 7 June 2016 / Accepted: 12 June 2016 / Published: 18 June 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (233 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Agriculture faces the unprecedented task of feeding a world population of 9 billion people by 2050 while simultaneously avoiding harmful environmental and social effects. One effort to meet this challenge has been organic farming, with outcomes that are generally positive. However, a number
[...] Read more.
Agriculture faces the unprecedented task of feeding a world population of 9 billion people by 2050 while simultaneously avoiding harmful environmental and social effects. One effort to meet this challenge has been organic farming, with outcomes that are generally positive. However, a number of challenges remain. Organic yields lag behind those in conventional agriculture, and greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient leaching remain somewhat problematic. In this paper, we examine current organic and conventional agriculture systems and suggest that agroforestry, which is the intentional combination of trees and shrubs with crops or livestock, could be the next step in sustainable agriculture. By implementing systems that mimic nature’s functions, agroforestry has the potential to remain productive while supporting a range of ecosystem services. In this paper, we outline the common practices and products of agroforestry as well as beneficial environmental and social effects. We address barriers to agroforestry and explore potential options to alter policies and increase adoption by farmers. We conclude that agroforestry is one of the best land use strategies to contribute to food security while simultaneously limiting environmental degradation. Full article
Open AccessReview Genetic Engineering and Sustainable Crop Disease Management: Opportunities for Case-by-Case Decision-Making
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 495; doi:10.3390/su8050495
Received: 22 March 2016 / Revised: 11 May 2016 / Accepted: 13 May 2016 / Published: 20 May 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (769 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Genetic engineering (GE) offers an expanding array of strategies for enhancing disease resistance of crop plants in sustainable ways, including the potential for reduced pesticide usage. Certain GE applications involve transgenesis, in some cases creating a metabolic pathway novel to the GE crop.
[...] Read more.
Genetic engineering (GE) offers an expanding array of strategies for enhancing disease resistance of crop plants in sustainable ways, including the potential for reduced pesticide usage. Certain GE applications involve transgenesis, in some cases creating a metabolic pathway novel to the GE crop. In other cases, only cisgenessis is employed. In yet other cases, engineered genetic changes can be so minimal as to be indistinguishable from natural mutations. Thus, GE crops vary substantially and should be evaluated for risks, benefits, and social considerations on a case-by-case basis. Deployment of GE traits should be with an eye towards long-term sustainability; several options are discussed. Selected risks and concerns of GE are also considered, along with genome editing, a technology that greatly expands the capacity of molecular biologists to make more precise and targeted genetic edits. While GE is merely a suite of tools to supplement other breeding techniques, if wisely used, certain GE tools and applications can contribute to sustainability goals. Full article

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Urban cultivation and its contributions to sustainability: Nibbles of food but oodles of social capital
Authors: George Martin, Roland Clift and Ian Christie
Affiliation: Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, UK
Abstract: The contemporary popular and academic surge in urban agriculture in the global North may overstate its production. Assessing the quantitative scale of urban food production and its potential contributions to food sustainability has been neglected in a focus on the qualitative nature of local produce. This exploratory study weighs the food, ecological and social sustainability contributions of urban agriculture by examining 3 cases—a community garden in the core of New York, a community farm on the edge of London and an agricultural park on the periphery of San Francisco. Our field analysis of these sites shows very low food outputs relative to the populations of their catchment areas. The great share of urban food apparently will continue to come from beyond urban peripheries, often far beyond. Cultivation rather than agriculture may be the appropriate designation for urban food growing because its sustainability benefits are more social than agronomic or ecological. A major benefit is enhancing the ecological knowledge of urbanites, including an appreciation of the role that organics may play in promoting both sustainability and health. This study indicates that benefits differ according to local conditions, including operational scale, soil quality and access to labour and consumers. Population densities and demographics as well as the availability of arable land are decisive factors. Benefits, including the promotion of sustainable diets, are analysed as local building blocks for a coordinated and tiered food system that is regional in scope.
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