Latest SCI publications
Multi-Actor and Transdisciplinary Development of Efficient and Resilient Mixed Farming and Agroforestry Systems (MIXED)
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-10-01 - 2024-09-30
Agricultural systems in Europe face challenges in terms of economic, ecological and societal performance. Faced with climate change, there is a need to strengthen the resilience of European agricultural production systems and at the same time ensure efficiency of production in terms of the use of resources such as water, nutrients, land and ecosystem services – thus creating balance and synergy between efficiency and resilience. It is expected that more mixed farming and agroforestry systems (MiFAS) could be part of the solution and should be explored. Adopting a holistic perspective, we define efficiency as the ability to simultaneously increase production, decrease input use, and decrease environmental and social impacts. We thereby also consider the impact of shocks and stresses in order to assess robustness of systems including capacities to adapt and transform. We define resilience of farming systems as their ability to ensure the provision of system functions in the face of increasingly complex and accumulating economic, social, environmental and institutional shocks and stresses, through capacities of robustness, adaptability and transformability. MIXED recognises that efficiency and resilience must be developed with farmers and in the contexts in which farms, farmers’ organizations, service suppliers and value chain actors operate. The overall project objective is to: drive the development of European Mixed Farming and Agroforestry Systems (MiFAS) that optimize efficiency and resource use, reduce GHG emissions, and show greater resilience to climate change by considering agronomic, technical, environmental, economic, institutional, infrastructure and social advantages and constraints. Through a multi-actor and transdisciplinary approach, the project will deliver the expected impacts by achieving the specific objectives organized under four main headings: 1) Co-creation of knowledge and innovations for enhanced Mixed Farming and Agroforestry Systems (MiFAS); 2) Development and assessment of MiFAS; 3) Decision-support for MiFAS; 4) Dissemination and communication.
Potential analysis of AgroVoltaics in Austria in the context of climate change – identification of sustainable areas with special respect to technical, economic, environmental and social aspects
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-10-01 - 2022-09-30
The project PA³C³ describes the potential of AgroVoltaics in Austria in the context of climate change. It focuses on the combined use of agricultural land for production of food/feed and solar electricity as countermeasure to future impacts of climate change, as well as maximization of land utilization. The coming decades will pose the challenge to meet both increasing demand of agricultural products and electricity, being complicated by changing conditions due to climate change. Expected increase of average temperature, drying trends paired with extreme precipitation events and other climatic changes force agricultural management to adapt. AgroVoltaics is a promising pathway for adaptation. The electrical output can possibly substitute the decreased output of agricultural products. Furthermore, the photovoltaic panels can have a positive effect on the plants below, e.g. reducing peak solar radiation and irrigation demand, being a countermeasure to the negative effects of climate change. The expansion of renewable energy production also has effects on environmental impacts. Beside the agrotechnical and economical challenges of changing management, a broad participation of stakeholders is crucial due to the decentralized structure of AgroVoltaics. To investigate these complex relationships, PA³C³ combines the important aspects for a successful implementation of AgroVoltaics in Austria. Serving this purpose, three scenarios are established: (1) unmodified agricultural management simulated with EPIC, (2) complete substitution of agriculture by photovoltaics simulated with PV-GIS, (3) combined land use, i.e. AgroVoltaics, investigated with life-cycle-assessment. The scenarios will be compared for the base year 2020 and 2050 under regards of projected climate impacts. Since the reliability of agricultural management is strongly dependent on local conditions, the results are resolved on a 500-meter grid over Austria, based on GIS-data such as topographic attributes, soil conditions, actual land management, weather data, etc. The acceptance of these scenarios by stakeholders will be investigated with a “serious gaming”-approach. Combining the results of all researched aspects, the potential for AgroVoltaics can be classified with a high geographical resolution.
Sustainable intensification of food production through resilient farming systems in West & North Africa
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-09-01 - 2025-08-31
Large areas of agricultural land in W. and N. Africa are heavily degraded, with water scarcity, low soil fertility and poor plant health, due to use of unsuitable agronomic systems and inappropriate management. In W. Africa, poor water, organic matter and nutrient retention limit food productivity, whilst in N. Africa, salinisation, wind erosion, formation of crusts and compaction threaten rainfed cropland and silvopasture. The low food productivity, poor resilience and unsustainability of current approaches have severe socioeconomic and environmental consequences. The overall goal of SustInAfrica is to empower smallholder farmers, small and medium enterprises and various government and non-governmental organisations in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Egypt and Tunisia to successfully intensify food production and deliver ecosystem services in a sustainable and resilient manner. This will be achieved through: A) comprehensive analysis of i) local/regional target ecosystems; ii) currently applied and potential landscape, soil, water and plant health management strategies and agronomic systems; iii) relevant actors across supply/value chains; iv) business models and policies; v) challenges and threats to production; B) development of technologies, including a smart platform supporting farmers in decision-making, concerning factors assessed in A); C) implementation of field trials at target sites, combining traditional knowledge, sustainable strategies and systems (agroecology, agroforestry, organic farming) and modern technologies (developed apps/platform); D) communication/dissemination/education/training to inform stakeholders/consumers and empower smallholders (especially women/youths); E) exploiting/continuing approaches/technologies for improved productivity/ecosystem services, long-term self-sufficiency beyond the project, reduced hunger/poverty and gender/wealth disparity, reduced environmental impact, long-term local food sectors growth/increased economic benefit.