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Effects of cropping systems diversification

A meta-analysis

18 November 2019

Impacts of crop diversification on biodiversity, soil quality and yields
Diversification of cropping systems encompasses different strategies that can contribute to maintaining or enhancing the sustainability of agriculture. Thousands of experiments have been conducted around the world for nearly five decades to assess and compare the performance of various diversifications in a wide range of agro-ecosystems and climates. A systematic multi-criteria synthesis of global agricultural diversification was still lacking.

Here, we identified and analysed 99 meta-analyses summarising the results of over 3700 agronomic experiments on seven crop diversification strategies. Among these strategies, rotation and associated plant species are dominant in the literature, followed by intercropping, agroforestry and landscape heterogeneity. Our analysis reveals that rotation and associations are associated with yield increases. Agroforestry systematically leads to improved biodiversity and soil quality - in particular soil organic carbon. In this context, the combination of several diversification strategies is more effective than any individual strategy. Furthermore, our study reveals that there is still a significant knowledge gap, particularly with regard to water use, profitability, product quality and production stability. Few meta-analyses examine the performance of landscape and system heterogeneity with species other than cereals and legumes.
References :

Beillouin D, Ben-Ari T and Makowski D 2019 A global dataset of meta-analyses on crop diversification at the global scale Data Brief 24 103898

Beillouin D, Ben-Ari T and Makoswki D 2018 Assessing the quality and results of meta-analyses on crop diversification Protocol for systematic review and evidence map

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