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Challenges for Agricultural Research

image of Challenges for Agricultural Research

As the world has changed during the past 50 years, so has agriculture. And so has agricultural research, which continues to confront new challenges, from food security to ecological concerns to land use issues. Indeed, as Guy Paillotin, the former president of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) has noted, agricultural research “has reached new heights in biology and is exploring other disciplines. It is forever changing, as are the needs of the society”.

The changing challenges faced by agricultural research were examined in depth at a conference organised by the OECD’s Co-operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, together with the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Agriculture. Participants came from all agricultural sectors and included farmers, industry, scientists and decision makers, as well as other stake holders.

This publication presents the twenty papers delivered at the conference. They highlight recent major progress in agricultural research outcomes and address the challenges that lie ahead.

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Managing Agricultural Landscapes for Production and Biodiversity Outcomes

Pressure is increasing globally to increase agricultural production (including bioenergy) per unit area, provide ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, flood control etc., and maintain cultural and biodiverse landscapes. These functions should not be totally separated; rather, we need to develop agricultural systems and landscapes that also provide these services, though the balance between them will vary from place to place. Such systems must be productive, resilient and profitable, raising the issue of how the public benefits of ecosystem services are valued and captured. While many agricultural landscapes will change, there is real scope to develop systems that are both productive and biodiverse – but these need to be well thought through, they will not happen by chance.

English

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