Cover crops use in agrosystems: Innovations and applications. Chapter 3

J.M.S. Scholberg, S. Dogliotti, L. Zotarelli, C.M. Cherr, C. Leoni, W.A.H. Rossing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Cover crops can reduce the dependence of farmers on agrochemicals while enhancing overall agrosystem’s performance. However, the inherent complexity of cover-crop-based systems hampers their adoption by conventional farmers. Therefore, special management skills and alternative research and technology transfer approaches may be required to facilitate their adoptive use by conventional farmers. We propose that development and adoption of suitable cover-crop-based production systems may require the use of an “innovation framework” that includes (1) identification of system constraints, (2) analysis of system behavior, (3) exploration of alternative systems, and (4) system design and selection. We describe case studies from four regions of the Americas (Florida, USA; Paraná and Santa Catarina, Brazil; and Canelones, Uruguay) that illustrate the relationships between this innovation framework and the development and adoption of cover-crop-based production systems. Where successful, development and adoption of such systems appear to relate to a number of attributes including (1) active involvement by farmers in research and dissemination programs; (2) integration of cover crops into production systems without net loss of land or labor resources; (3) informing farmers of the (direct) benefits of cover crop use; (4) provision of multiple benefits by cover crops, (5) sufficient access to information, inputs, and technologies required for cover crop use; and (6) provision of skills and experience necessary to manage cover crops effectively. Where these attributes are absent and failure to innovate has prevented development and adoption of cover-crop-based systems, policy initiatives to reward farmers for ecological services provided by cover crops may be required
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGenetic Engineering, Biofertilisation, Soil Quality and Organic farming
EditorsE. Lichtfouse
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages414
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Publication series

NameSustainable Agriculture Reviews

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