Agro-ecological intensification

almondAgroecological practices are part of the solution to sustainably intensify annual and perennial croppinskyelark2g systems. The basic principles are well known: minimum soil disturbances, permanent soil cover using residues or cover crops, natural soil fertility building practices and higher structural, temporal and functional field and landscape diversity. Yield advantages of more diverse crop rotations/landscapes and their synergistic effects with reduced disturbance are well documented; however, the underlying crop physiological and developmental mechanisms remain unclear, especially when yields stability to extreme weather events and variations in temperature and soil moisture are considered.  We are also interested in measuring a large suite of ecosystem services along management gradients in annual and perennial systems to provide a balanced assessment of the environmental and economic benefits of farming for ecosystem services.
Finally, we have a growing interest in the study of how land-based livestock integration can benefits growers and sustainability and carbon
footprint of the whole value chain. Understanding the role of soil health and diversity-based management options on agroecosystem functioning will help design of sustainable and
resource efficient production systems. 

Current Research Activities

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  • Assessing ecosystems services provided by organic amendments and cover crops in almond production and potential tradeoffs.
  • Impact of integrated pasture management systems and crop livestock integration on productivity, soil-based ecosystem services and C sequestra
    tion in California, Brazil and Nicaragua (CIAT, Emily Webster; Caitlin Peterson; Fibershed) 
  • Diversifying and intensifying agriculture in Kenyan highlands to improve food security (CIP)
  • Elucidate the rhizosphere and crop physiological basis of rotation x tillage yield benefits in rainfed field crops  (UofGuelph, Leah Renwick)