Document Detail

Biodiversity can support a greener revolution in Africa.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21098285     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The Asian green revolution trebled grain yields through agrochemical intensification of monocultures. Associated environmental costs have subsequently emerged. A rapidly changing world necessitates sustainability principles be developed to reinvent these technologies and test them at scale. The need is particularly urgent in Africa, where ecosystems are degrading and crop yields have stagnated. An unprecedented opportunity to reverse this trend is unfolding in Malawi, where a 90% subsidy has ensured access to fertilization and improved maize seed, with substantive gains in productivity for millions of farmers. To test if economic and ecological sustainability could be improved, we preformed manipulative experimentation with crop diversity in a countrywide trial (n = 991) and at adaptive, local scales through a decade of participatory research (n = 146). Spatial and temporal treatments compared monoculture maize with legume-diversified maize that included annual and semiperennial (SP) growth habits in temporal and spatial combinations, including rotation, SP rotation, intercrop, and SP intercrop systems. Modest fertilizer intensification doubled grain yield compared with monoculture maize. Biodiversity improved ecosystem function further: SP rotation systems at half-fertilizer rates produced equivalent quantities of grain, on a more stable basis (yield variability reduced from 22% to 13%) compared with monoculture. Across sites, profitability and farmer preference matched: SP rotations provided twofold superior returns, whereas diversification of maize with annual legumes provided more modest returns. In this study, we provide evidence that in Africa, crop diversification can be effective at a countrywide scale, and that shrubby, grain legumes can enhance environmental and food security.
Sieglinde S Snapp; Malcolm J Blackie; Robert A Gilbert; Rachel Bezner-Kerr; George Y Kanyama-Phiri
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2010-11-22
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America     Volume:  107     ISSN:  1091-6490     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.     Publication Date:  2010 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-12-01     Completed Date:  2011-01-05     Revised Date:  2013-07-03    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505876     Medline TA:  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  20840-5     Citation Subset:  IM    
The Kellogg Biological Station, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, MI 49060, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Agriculture / methods*
Crops, Agricultural / growth & development*
Fabaceae / growth & development
Zea mays / growth & development
Reg. No./Substance:

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