Researching sustainable intensification in agriculture

After the first week of my internship, I am quite excited about what the rest of the summer will bring. I have met with my advisor (Dr. Barnes) several times to discuss my goals for the summer and also to go over what he is currently researching it. At the moment, he is looking at sustainable intensification (SI) in agriculture. As the name suggests, this essentially means: how can we increase agricultural production while keeping it sustainable, ie not depleting all of our resources. Incorporating SI into farming on a global scale is of the utmost importance for food security, something that becomes more relevant and pressing every day. There are many factors that comprise SI, one of which is integrated pest management (IPM), which Dr. Barnes is increasingly turning his focus to. This is a method that encourages the use of more natural pest control practices, especially on crops that are immediately consumed, such as vegetables and fruits, with chemical pesticides only being a last resort. This is ┬ánot a new technique, nor is it looked upon unfavorably, but it does not seem to be widespread. So the point of our research is to look at the uptake of IPM, which farmers use it and why, and if they don’t use it, why not? Currently, my role is to research SI and IPM and gather as much information as I can in order to start piecing together the puzzle. In the following weeks we will start using this information to lay the foundation for a future paper. Furthermore, we will start organizing workshops for farmers, so that we can talk about SI, and hopefully also get a chance to interview farmers to gather qualitative information on farmers’ opinions of SI methods. It’s all very exciting and I can’t wait to see what we achieve in the next few weeks.