Time for a shift in crop production: embracing complexity through diversity at all levels

H. Ostergard, M.R. Finckh, L. Fontaine, I. Goldringer, S. Hoad, K. Kristensen, E. Lammerts Van Bueren, F. Mascher, L. Munk, M.S. Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


A radical shift in our approach to crop production is needed to ensure food security and to address the problems of soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, polluted and restricted water supplies, coupled with a future of fossil fuel limitations and increasingly variable climatic conditions. An interdisciplinary network of European scientists put forward visions for future crop production embracing the complexity of our socio-ecological system by applying the principle of diversity at all levels from soil micro-organisms to plant varieties and cropping systems. This approach, integrated with careful deployment of our finite global resources and implementation of appropriate sustainable technology, appears to be the only way to ensure the scale of system resilience needed to cope with many of our concerns. We discuss some of the most important tools such as (i) building soil fertility by recycling of nutrients and sustainable use of other natural and physical resources, (ii) enhancing biological diversity by breeding of crops resilient to climate change and (iii) reconnecting all stakeholders in crop production. Finally, we emphasise some of the changes in agricultural and environmental regulation and policy needed in order to implement the visions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1439-1445
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • earthworms aporrectodea-rosea
  • soil organic-matter
  • genotype-environment interactions
  • ecosystem services
  • wheat populations
  • powdery mildew
  • food security
  • agricultural sustainability
  • conservation tillage
  • carbon sequestration

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