The new ‘golden age’ of agronomy

Originally posted on CGIAR’s Thrive blog on February 25, 2016
By Fred Pearce

Not since the Green Revolution half a century ago has there been such a golden age for agronomy. But unlike the hey-day of new high-yield varieties of rice, wheat and corn, there is no consensus today about where the science of farming should be headed and what it should be trying to deliver.

Is the aim to maximise yield, to feed the world’s growing urban masses, to improve the lot of rural households, to rescue the world’s soils from rampant over exploitation, or to drive economic growth in developing economies?

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Rice production in Eastern Uruguay from the air. Photo Credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT

Can all be delivered at the same time? Or is agronomy being taken over by fads – many with a green patina, such as conservation agriculture, agro-ecology, climate-smart agriculture and sustainable intensification – that promise all but too often deliver little. Do they too often turn into a new imposition on the rural poor? [Read more…]