Agro-ecological intensification

We quantify the benefits/tradeoffs of agroecological management approaches on system productivity and provision of ecosystem services

Agroecological practices are part of the solution to sustainably intensify annual and perennial cropping 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

  • Assessing ecosystems services provided by healthy soils, cover crops and regenerative practices in almond production (Vivian Wauters, Krista Marshall).
  • Impact of sheep integration into vineyard on productivity, soil-based ecosystem services and C sequestration (Kelsey Brewer) 

Past Research Activities

  • Benefits and tradeoffs of drip irrigation for organic system productivity and long-term soil ecosystem services (Jennifer Schmidt, Caitlin Peterson, Meng Li)