Resilience in agriculture through crop diversification: adaptive management for environmental change

Lin, B.B. | BioScience | 2011 | Peer Reviewed | Review |


Recognition that climate change could have negative consequences for agricultural production has generated a desire to build resilience into agricultural systems. One rational and cost-effective method may be the implementation of increased agricultural crop diversification. Crop diversification can improve resilience in a variety of ways: by engendering a greater ability to suppress pest outbreaks and dampen pathogen transmission, which may worsen under future climate scenarios, as well as by buffering crop production from the effects of greater climate variability and extreme events. Such benefits point toward the obvious value of adopting crop diversification to improve resilience, yet adoption has been slow. Economic incentives encouraging production of a select few crops, the push for biotechnology strategies, and the belief that monocultures are more productive than diversified systems have been hindrances in promoting this strategy. However, crop diversification can be implemented in a variety of forms and at a variety of scales, allowing farmers to choose a strategy that both increases resilience and provides economic benefits.