Academic training: PhD in Agricultural Science, School of Agronomy, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Agricultural Engineer, School of Agronomy, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Work plan: Costs and benefits of incorporating ecological intensification practices into the extensive agriculture of the Pampean region.
General objective: Assess the feasibility of incorporating ecological intensification practices into the extensive production systems of the Pampean region.
Specific objectives: Evaluate the effect of different edge density, percentage of natural and semi-natural habitat on landscape and the use of pesticides at the batch level on historical yields, the stability of these over time and the profit/economic cost ratio.
Background: Producing food in an environmentally friendly way is currently one of the greatest challenges humanity faces. Ecological intensification emerges as a new paradigm in agricultural production where the objective is to maintain or increase agricultural productivity in the long term, while reducing dependence on synthetic inputs and expansion of farmland, through the effective management of environmental services provided by biodiversity. The efficiency of the use of resources is sought, not only for a more accurate use of synthetic inputs (without necessarily achieving a “zero” use of synthetic inputs such as organic agriculture), but also by working with the co-existing biota (e.g. weeds, detritivores, pollinators, natural enemies, etc.) to favor crop plants. Such ecological intensification describes a process rather than an end point and could be seen as a necessary path for more comprehensive goals of agroecology, food security, and sustainable intensification. While it has been demonstrated that ecological intensification practices can have advantages in environmental aspects (i.e. biophysical indicators), information on the economic benefit/cost ratio of ecological intensification practices is lacking, limiting their implementation and being a key aspect for agricultural producers.
Activities and methodology: The study will be carried out in the Pampean region, province of Buenos Aires. Through the use of geographic information systems, agricultural plots of producers associated with CREA will be located with information regarding yield series of more than 10 years. These will be classified according to the edge density index (IDB) and the percentage of natural and semi-natural habitat (PHN). Information on batch and yield handling will be collected in these establishments. With this information and the data generated for IDB and PHN for each batch, models will be estimated that will allow to analyze average historical yields, stability (coefficient of variation, %) (kg ha-1 year-1) and profit/economic cost ratio depending on the IDB and PHN.
Feasibility: The link with CREA is essential to carry out this project as it will allow the gathering of the producers’ information (spatial, yields, management and economic information). At the same time, the information generated could have important implications for decision-making, both among producers and decision-makers.