Keywords: Resource requirement, resource use efficiency, buffering capacity of agro-ecosystems.
Hopefully the quality of life for billions of people will improve considerably during the coming decades. This implies that the production of virtually every commodity will have to increase dramatically. Agriculture related activities ought to provide food, feed and non-edible plant-based products. The availability of natural resources per person will, however, continue to decline. Resource degradation such as erosion, soil fertility decline and water pollution further constrain production increase. Hence, the efficiency of use of natural resources will have to be boosted drastically, while variability should be curtailed through enhanced buffering capacity of the production base to prevent shock to food systems. These changes in agricultural strategies also call for disciplinary groups, such as researchers on nitrogen or fertilisers, to seek for synergies with disciplinary groups of other production factors. This paper provides an overview of the challenges and stresses the need for agro-ecological intelligence in choosing agricultural development strategies and therefore, in designing agro-ecosystems.
1 Director ISRIC — World Soil Information; Wageningen UR, The Netherlands.
2 Leader International Research — Agrosystems Research; Plant Research International, Wageningen UR, The Netherlands.
32 pages, 2 figures, 2 tables, 139 references.