Agricultural Systems: Agroecology and Rural Innovation for Development

Agricultural Systems: Agroecology and Rural Innovation for Development

Agroecology and Rural Innovation for Development

2nd Edition - February 17, 2017

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  • Editors: Sieglinde Snapp, Barry Pound
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128020951
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128020708

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Agricultural Systems, Second Edition, is a comprehensive text for developing sustainable farming systems. It presents a synthetic overview of the emerging area of agroecology applications to transforming farming systems and supporting rural innovation, with particular emphasis on how research can be harnessed for sustainable agriculture. The inclusion of research theory and examples using the principles of cropping system design allows students to gain a unique understanding of the technical, biological, ecological, economic and sociological aspects of farming systems science for rural livelihoods. This book explores topics such as: re-inventing farming systems; principles and practice of agroecology; agricultural change and low-input technology; ecologically-based nutrient management; participatory breeding for developing improved and relevant crops; participatory livestock research for development; gender and agrarian inequality at the local scale; the nature of agricultural innovation; and outreach to support rural innovation. The extensive coverage of subjects is complemented with integrated references and a companion website, making this book essential reading for courses in international agricultural systems and management, sustainable agricultural management, and cropping systems. This book will be a valuable resource for students of agricultural science, environmental engineering, and rural planning; researchers and scientists in agricultural development agencies; and practitioners of agricultural development in government extension programs, development agencies, and NGOs.

Key Features

  • Provides students with an enhanced understanding of how research can be harnessed for sustainable agriculture
  • Incorporates social, biological, chemical, and geographical aspects important to agroecology
  • Addresses social and development issues related to farming systems


Students of agricultural science, environmental engineering, rural planning; researchers and scientists in agricultural development agencies; practitioners of agricultural development in government extension programs, development agencies, and NGOs

Table of Contents

  • Section I: Reinventing Farming Systems

    Chapter 1. Introduction

    • Abstract
    • Agricultural Systems in a Changing World
    • Evolving Agricultural Systems Research
    • Different Paths Taken
    • Local Institutions for Agricultural Innovation
    • Catalyzing Directions of Change
    • Road Map
    • References
    • Internet Resources

    Chapter 2. Agroecology: Principles and Practice

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • Ecosystem Drivers
    • Agroecozones
    • Community Structure
    • Organism Niche
    • Community Evolution
    • Plant Growth Types
    • Ecological Principles Applied to Agriculture
    • Complementarity
    • Redundancy
    • Mosaics
    • Farming Systems by Agroecology
    • Application of Ecological Principles to a Changing World
    • References
    • Internet Resources

    Chapter 3. Farming-Related Livelihoods

    • Abstract
    • The Complexity of Farmer Decision-Making
    • The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework
    • Participatory Rural Appraisal as a Part of Sustainable Livelihoods Analysis
    • Complementing Qualitative Information with Quantitative Data
    • The Influence of Insecurity on Livelihoods
    • Credit Initiatives to Kick-start Livelihood Changes
    • Conclusions
    • References

    Chapter 4. Farming Systems for Sustainable Intensification

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • The What and Why of Sustainable Intensification
    • Alternatives to Intensification
    • Successful Sustainable Systems
    • When is Sustainable Intensification Relevant?
    • Sustainable Intensification Indicators
    • Trade-offs and Synergies
    • The Elements of Sustainable Intensification
    • Integration of System Elements
    • Pathways to Sustainable Intensification
    • The Way Forward
    • References

    Chapter 5. Designing for the Long-term: Sustainable Agriculture

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • Putting Sustainable Agriculture Into Practice
    • References
    • Internet Resources

    Section II: Resources for Agricultural Development

    Chapter 6. Low-Input Technology: An Integrative View

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • Low External Input Technology
    • Labor
    • Knowledge
    • Implications for Rural Development Strategies
    • Conclusions
    • References

    Chapter 7. Ecologically Based Nutrient Management

    • Abstract
    • Nutrient Management as Applied Ecology
    • The Basics of Nutrient Cycling
    • Applying an Ecological Nutrient Management Strategy
    • The Role of Plants and Microorganisms in Cycling Nutrients
    • Concepts and Strategies to Optimize Ecological Nutrient Management
    • Developing Site-Specific Ecological Nutrient Management Systems
    • References

    Chapter 8. Participatory Breeding: Developing Improved and Relevant Crop Varieties With Farmers

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • Theory of Participatory Plant Breeding
    • Practical Elements of Participatory Plant Breeding in View of Agroecological Issues
    • Examples of Successful Participatory Plant Breeding for Marginal Environments
    • Types of Impact Achievable Through Participatory Plant Breeding for Sustainable Development of Farming Systems and Farmers’ Livelihoods
    • References

    Chapter 9. Research on Livestock, Livelihoods, and Innovation

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • Livestock Production Systems
    • Livestock Trends and Predictions
    • Contributions of Livestock to Development
    • Livestock and Livelihood Outcomes
    • Livestock Research
    • New Paradigms for Research to Address Development Needs
    • Ways Forward
    • Acknowledgment
    • References

    Section III: Context for Sustainable Agricultural Development

    Chapter 10. Gender and Agrarian Inequities

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • Inequality and Agricultural Systems in Perspective
    • Global Inequality: The Big Picture
    • The Study of Gender Relations
    • Gender and Unequal Access to Productive Resources in Agricultural Systems
    • Understanding Gender Dynamics at the Household Scale in Agricultural Systems
    • Photo Credit: Carl Hiebert (2004)
    • Case Study: Gender, Inequality, and Agroecological Approaches in Northern Malawi
    • Conclusion: Addressing Gender Inequalities in Agricultural Systems
    • References
    • Internet Resources

    Chapter 11. The Innovation Systems Approach to Agricultural Research and Development

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • Defining Innovation
    • Defining an Innovation System
    • What Drives Innovation in Agriculture?
    • The Case for Change
    • The Innovation Systems Model
    • The Innovation Platform: A Mechanism for Operationalizing the Innovation System at Local (and National) Levels
    • Characteristics of Innovation Platforms
    • Practical Experiences with Innovation Platforms
    • Capacity Development Needs for Agricultural Innovation Systems
    • The Enabling Environment for Innovation Systems
    • Risks and Benefits of Adopting an Innovation Systems Approach
    • Implications for Agricultural Development
    • References

    Chapter 12. Outreach to Support Rural Innovation

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems
    • Relevance of Extension
    • Enhancing Client-orientation at Different Scales
    • Demand-Driven Models
    • Facilitation of Local Capacity
    • Active Learning
    • Scaling-up and Out
    • Conclusions
    • References

    Chapter 13. Climate Change and Agricultural Systems

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • Climate Change: Definitions, Causes, and Links With Agriculture
    • Impacts of Climate Change
    • Climate Change Mitigation and Agriculture
    • Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change
    • Concepts and Broad Approaches to Addressing Climate Change in Agricultural Development
    • Strengthening Agricultural Innovation Systems to Respond to Climate Change
    • Climate Change and Agricultural Systems: Ways Forward
    • References

    Section IV: Tying It All Together

    Chapter 14. Tying It All Together: Global, Regional, and Local Integrations

    • Abstract
    • The Poverty of Big Ideas
    • A Green Evolution Strategy
    • Implementing the Dream
    • Looking Beyond the Farm Gate
    • References
    • Internet Resources

Product details

  • No. of pages: 558
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2017
  • Published: February 17, 2017
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128020951
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128020708

About the Editors

Sieglinde Snapp

Sieglinde's research interests center around agroecology, particularly integrated approaches to soil and crop management for sustainable production. Sieglinde is committed to linking on-station research experimentation to participatory approaches, working with interdisciplinary teams in the Great Lakes Region of USA, and beyond. Scholarship, extension and farmer engagement that involves participation of multiple stakeholders is central to her extension approach.

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Crop and Soil Science and W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA

Barry Pound

Dr. Barry Pound started as an agronomist and has steadily widened his experience through farming-systems approaches to sustainable-livelihood development and agricultural innovation systems. His interests include bridging the interfaces between social and natural sciences, and between research and extension. Currently, Dr. Pound is a visitng fellow in Livelihoods and Rural Innovation, Livelihoods and Institutions Department Natural Resource Institute, University of Greenwich Kent, UK.

Affiliations and Expertise

Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich Kent, UK

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