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Balancing on a PlanetThe Future of Food and Agriculture$
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David A. Cleveland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520277410

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520277410.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 21 May 2022

Managing Agricultural Ecosystems

Managing Agricultural Ecosystems

The Critical Role of Diversity

(p.160) Six Managing Agricultural Ecosystems
Balancing on a Planet

David A. Cleveland

University of California Press

The relationships between diversity, yield, and yield stability are much debated in ecology and agroecology. Modern industrial agriculture has reduced diversity to increase yields, while controlling instability by increased inputs (energy, pest protection, fertilizer, and irrigation). This lead to increased risk of system failure, illustrated by increased susceptibility of genetically uniform modern varieties to evolution of resistance in pests and pathogens. Instability also results from disruption in supply of required inputs. In traditional farming, polycultures of different varieties and species are common, with land equivalent ratios greater than monocultures. Sustainable agriculture seeks spatiotemporal niches where diversity, yield, and yield stability can coexist synergistically. This often combines components of traditional and modern agricultural knowledge and technology, illustrated by polyculture experiments in China.

Keywords:   diversity, stability, agroecology, inputs, genetic uniformity, evolution of resistance, pests, pathogens, land equivalent ratio, polyculture

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