Leveraging functional diversity in farm fields for sustainability

The latest issue of Journal of Applied Ecology includes a Special Feature, Functional traits in agroecology. To accompany the feature, we’re introducing a series of blog posts from the authors themselves. The first of these comes from Jennifer Blesh and discusses her article, Functional traits in cover crop mixtures: Biological nitrogen fixation and multifunctionality. Global climate, energy, and water crises pose immense challenges for agricultural systems. … Continue reading Leveraging functional diversity in farm fields for sustainability

Issue 55:1

To start 2018, we’ve compiled some of the highlights for our first issue of the year. As well as a Special Feature on Functional traits in agroecology, issue 55:1 includes topics such as conservation, invasives and agricultural landscapes. Here we take a look at some of the author and Editor comments on articles in this issue: Special Feature: Functional traits in agroecology Authors from the … Continue reading Issue 55:1

Applying fertilizer? Don’t forget about pollination

In this post Stijn van Gils discusses his paper with Wim van der Putten and David Kleijn. ‘Can above-ground ecosystem services compensate for reduced fertilizer input and soil organic matter in annual crops?’ You can also read this post in Dutch. Farmers often try to increase yield directly through ploughing, and the addition of fertilizers and agro-chemicals. Yield, however, is also affected by ecological interactions, … Continue reading Applying fertilizer? Don’t forget about pollination

Flower strips support ecosystem services only when they have the right flowers

In this post Paul van Rijn discusses his recent paper ‘Nectar accessibility determines fitness, flower choice and abundance of hoverflies that provide natural pest control’ The industrialization of agriculture has strongly impoverished our countryside. The amount and quality of non-crop habitats have declined, and the biodiversity within and among crops has dropped even more. In recent years it has become clear that this not only … Continue reading Flower strips support ecosystem services only when they have the right flowers

Managing impacts of land use change

This blog post is part of the blog series ‘Authors in Asia’, to accompany the recent Virtual Issue in Journal of Applied Ecology. You can read other posts in this series here. This post features three manuscripts which look at managing impacts of land use change. First, Kei Uchida discusses his paper ‘Land abandonment and intensification diminish spatial and temporal β-diversity of grassland plants and … Continue reading Managing impacts of land use change

Making the most of pollinators to improve and predict crop yields

In this post Lucas Garibaldi discusses his recent Review article ‘Trait matching of flower visitors and crops predicts fruit set better than trait diversity‘ Sustainable management of agroecosystems is a global challenge, with more than 35 % of the Earth’s land area covered by farmland. It has been suggested that species diversity is critical for sustainability because it increases the level and stability of agroecosystem … Continue reading Making the most of pollinators to improve and predict crop yields

A more natural method of biocontrol

In this post Associate Editor Yann Clough discusses a paper he recently handled by Mattias Jonsson and colleagues ‘Experimental evidence that the effectiveness of conservation biological control depends on landscape complexity’ Brassica crops worldwide are attacked by a range of herbivorous insects, and frequent insecticide use is common. New research shows that the natural biological control of pests can be achieved by establishing strips of … Continue reading A more natural method of biocontrol

Engineering soil complexity

In this post Kirsty Lees discusses the recent paper from Alice Johnston and colleagues ‘Effects of agricultural management practices on earthworm populations and crop yield: validation and application of a mechanistic modelling approach’ Healthy soils are essential to the provision of ecosystem services; however, increasing intensification has resulted in soil degradation in many arable systems threatening water quality, carbon storage and ultimately food security. Any … Continue reading Engineering soil complexity

Natural vegetation and biocontrol in southern Africa

In this post Dominic Henri discusses his recent paper ‘Natural vegetation benefits synergistic control of the three main insect and pathogen pests of a fruit crop in southern Africa‘ You can also find a poster ‘Distance-dependent natural vegetation benefits to the biocontrol of multiple pests and pathogens in South Africa mango farms’ associated with the paper here. It is a widely held view among the … Continue reading Natural vegetation and biocontrol in southern Africa

Bringing multifunctionality down to earth: Maximising soil functional capacity in African Smallholder Farms

In this post, Peter Manning discusses a paper he recently handled by Stephen Wood and colleagues “Agricultural intensification and the functional capacity of soil microbes on smallholder African farms” Around 900 million of the world’s poorest people are smallholder farmers in the tropics, and their lives are a tough reality of uncertain crop yields and worries about sustainability. Soils are often mismanaged and become rapidly … Continue reading Bringing multifunctionality down to earth: Maximising soil functional capacity in African Smallholder Farms