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Darwinian AgricultureHow Understanding Evolution Can Improve Agriculture$
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R. Ford Denison

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691139500

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691139500.001.0001

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date: 14 December 2017

What Won’t Work

What Won’t Work

Misguided Mimicry of Natural Ecosystems

Chapter:
(p.95) 7 What Won’t Work
Source:
Darwinian Agriculture
Author(s):

R. Ford Denison

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691139500.003.0007

This chapter considers four ideas—suggested by Wes Jackson and Jon Piper in the classic paper, “The necessary marriage between ecology and agriculture”—for how agriculture might attempt to mimic nature: perennial grain crops; reliance on only local sources of nutrients; polyculture or intercropping (that is, deploying crop diversity as mixtures, as in many natural ecosystems); and reliance on biodiversity to control pests. The chapter examines each of the proposals in light of the conclusion that copying landscape-scale patterns from natural ecosystems is not necessarily a good idea, arguing that all of them are representative of many self-styled “agroecologists.” It also discusses complementarity in crop mixtures, specifically spatial complementarity, temporal complementarity, and nutritional complementarity.

Keywords:   agriculture, perennial grain crops, nutrients, intercropping, crop diversity, biodiversity, pests, natural ecosystems, agroecologists, complementarity

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