RLA Laureate Wes Jackson’s Land Institute and Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies intend to establish a long-term research initiative with the bold aim of advancing a new agriculture. A sustained commitment in terms of funding and research enthusiasm for 10-15 years is envisaged.
In order to put agriculture on a truly sustainable track, it needs to be redesigned along the lines of ecology rather than industry. Natural ecosystems are characterised by diversity and long term accumulative processes, something that could be mimicked in a new agriculture. To achieve this, the most fundamental change required is to move from the dominance of annual crops grown in monocultures, to perennial crops grown in polycultures. Such perennial polycultures require substantially less input of expensive seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and machinery, thus providing a basis for a stronger farm economy conducive to a revitalisation of rural societies. Biological research has shown the potential of such an agriculture, but the research has to be consolidated and more orchestrated efforts in order to promote a transition to this truly sustainable agricultural system are needed. The initiative is admittedly bold but the rewards may be extraordinary for humanity.