Agriculture and Soil sciences

Agricultural practices are another victim of the ‘tragedy of horizon’1, “[f]or it takes several thousand years to build a thin layer of fertile topsoil, but only an hour of heavy rain to lose it”.2 While conventional agriculture practices have managed to increase yields, prevailing monocultures and the associated heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides have detrimental effects on biodiversity and soil fertility. Land use practices also have important effects on the climate. Healthy soils serve as carbon sinks. In turn, unsustainable agricultural practices threaten to release more carbon into the atmosphere. The expanding role of the bioeconomy and the associated increasing demand for biomass3 runs the danger of continuing a development path in which fertile soils are degraded or ‘mined’, thus reducing the overall available land for agricultural production. Future climatic changes pose new challenges for the maintenance of healthy and resilience agriculture and the soils on which they are based.

  • 1. Elliott, Larry. 2015. ‘Carney Warns of Risks from Climate Change “Tragedy of the Horizon”’. The Guardian, September 29, sec. Environment. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/29/carney-warns-of-risks....
  • 2. Unmüßig, Barbara, and Klaus Töpfer. 2015. ‘Introduction’. In Soil Atlas. Facts and Figures about Earth, Land and Fields. Second Edition, 7. Heinrich Böll Foundation and Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies.
  • 3. Iglesias, Ana, Sonia Quiroga, Marta Moneo, and Luis Garrote. 2012. ‘From Climate Change Impacts to the Development of Adaptation Strategies: Challenges for Agriculture in Europe’. Climatic Change 112 (1): 143–68.; Lin, Brenda B. 2011. ‘Resilience in Agriculture through Crop Diversification: Adaptive Management for Environmental Change’. BioScience 61 (3): 183–93. doi:10.1525/bio.2011.61.3.4.

Knowledge development and diffusion

Reclamation of contaminated soil patents

Patents can help protect and realize innovations within agriculture and soil sciences.

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Reclamation of contaminated soil patents per 1000 researchers

Patents can help protect and realize innovations within agriculture and soil sciences.

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Reclamation of contaminated soil patents per mill. inhab.

Patents can help protect and realize innovations within agriculture and soil sciences.

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Scientific publications - Soil sciences

Publications serve as proxy for research and knowledge diffusion activity.

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Scientific publications per 1000 researchers - Soil sciences

Publications serve as proxy for research and knowledge diffusion activity.

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Scientific publications per mill. inhab. - Soil sciences

Publications serve as proxy for research and knowledge diffusion activity.

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Influence on the direction of search

Consumption of Phosphate rock

Phosphorus is mined and depleted yet necessary for agriculture. More efficient phosphorus use is necessary to make agriculture sustainable.

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GHG emissions per capita - Agriculture sector

GHG emissions in the Agriculture sector can indicate where climate change mitigation has been successful and where more should be done.

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Legitimation of technologies

Eurobarometer survey - Environmental concern

A higher prioritisation of environmental issues should translate into more support for sustainable agriculture. It can legitimise but also delegitimise agricultural innovations, depending on their perceived sustainability impact.

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Resource mobilization

BERD Agriculture, forestry & fishing

Private research and development expenditure supports innovation in the agriculture sector.

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Public R&D spending - Environment sector (PPS per capita)

This may benefit the generation of knowledge on sustainable agriculture and soil sciences.
 

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Public R&D spending - Environment sector (share of GBAORD)

This may benefit the generation of knowledge on sustainable agriculture and soil sciences.

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