Cropping systems

Last changed: 02 December 2022
Photo: Jenny Svennås-Gillner

The Bommarco lab analyses how diversified farming affects crop yield and ecosystem functions in crop production. We assess options for adaptation and mitigation of climate change and biodiversity decline.

Futures of agriculture

The climate destabilisation and biodiversity crisis open imminent and fundamental questions about human-nature relations. The close entanglement of human and nature in agriculture makes this a particularly suitable arena for studying human-nature relations. Agriculture is at the same time essential for human survival, a major cause of and vulnerable to biodiversity loss, climate change and antimicrobial resistance. We are five researchers in natural, social and human sciences who examine positions in academia on the future of agriculture as part of the Interdisciplinary academy at SLU. We explore the science and values underpinning academic discourses on human-nature interactions. We explore the scientific evidence and wider social and cultural contexts that shape the rationale and premises underpinning dominant and contrasting academic discourses on the futures of agriculture, such as “agroecology”, “sustainable intensification” and “climate smart agriculture”. In doing so, we identify the respective ontologies, epistemologies and value judgements across sciences. Our aim is an understanding and appreciation of the contributions of social, human and natural scientific disciplines with evidence and perspectives in the much needed interdisciplinary dialogue on agriculture and its future.

Collaborators: Klara Fischer, Giulia Vico, Hans Liljenström, Helena Röcklingsberg 

Diversified farming, crop yield and climate

Farming can be diversifed in many ways. For instanceby growing more crop species in the rotation ,  or enhancing soil life with organic amendments. We  examine how diversified farming affect the delivery of multiple ecosystem functions such as crop yield, biological pest regulation and nutrient cycling. We perform synthesis based on information from the literature and yield data from long term agricultural experiments to examine impact of climate change, including extreme weather events, on crop yields.

Phd students Alessio Costa

Collaborators: Dr. Giulia Vico, Prof. Sara Hallin, Prof. Giuliano Di Baldassarre, Prof Amelie Gaudin, Prof Timothy Bowles Postdoc Monique Smith

Economy of diversified farming

In interdisciplinary collaborative research including expertise in economy, agronomy, ecology and geography, we follow trends and assess how implementation of agroecological practices among Swedish farmers, such as diversified crop production and mixed livestocks-crop farming, affect farm economic viability and outcomes. We mine large long-term data bases of crop production and farm business economics and track trends and outcomes at farm to regional and national levels in the past 20 years.

Collaborators: Dr Pia Nilsson, Prof Helena Hansson, Dr Brian Kuns  Dr Giulia Vico

Multifunctional crop production systems

To position agriculture within planetary boundaries requires a redesign of crop production systems for multifunctionality, i.e., managing for production of food and feed, as well as for environmental protection, fertility, climate mitigation and adaptation and farm economy. To identify and minimize potential trade-offs among these, we collaborate to develop sustainable and multifunctional cropping systems. We test effects on multifunctionality of main ecological gradients managed by the farmer such as crop diversity, soil tillage and perennial cropping. We draw data from agricultural long term experiments  in which these are manipulated. We combine this information with short term mesocosm experiments. Drawing from ecosystem and community ecology we establish a multifunctional framework on how ecosystem funcitons are coupled above and below ground in the agroecosystem. We build theory on how crop diversity, disturbance and perenniality drive stocks and flows of carbon, nutrients, water, energy and crop primary production. We identify principles for the design of sustainable cropping systems.

Collaborators: Alexander Menegat, Göran Bergkvist, Ola Lundin, Thomas Keller, Ingrid Öborn, Martin van Ittersum (Wageningen university) , Christine Watson (Scotland’s rural college) , Frederick Stoddard (Helsiniki University)