PT-2 :: Opportunities of innovative and sustainable agricultural technologies

Sub-topics: Organic farming opportunity; sustainable agriculture practices; potential productivity of land; waste compost alternatives, water use efficiency in agriculture.
Currently, there is a need to achieve a more sustainable agriculture that feeds society effectively, contributes to rural development and provides subsistence to farmers without damaging the natural resources. Organic farming has been proposed as an important means for achieving these aims. Some sustainability impacts of organic farming are known, however it will be fundamental more research on this sub-topic. It would be fundamental to assess the economic, social and environmental sustainability of such agricultural practices, as well as to identify the problems and benefits. Some constraints to increasing the role of organic farming have been also discussed, but ongoing monitoring and evaluation of market development, production costs and consumer perception is desirable. Research on potential productivity of soils and alternative ways to increase soil fertility (such as green manure or composts), would be necessary. Furthermore it would be crucial more knowledge about water efficiently in the agriculture, namely on integrated management systems to reuse the urban water.
This question affects population in general but the research should be centered on farmers and conducted with and for farmers, identifying and accounting their issues, needs and perceptions. Currently, in Portugal we are at initial phase with a growing concern about these topics, but farmer’s actions will depend from economic factors. Scientific knowledge about these innovative technologies (options, challenges and benefits) would be necessary and can be effectively used to incentive and prepare farmers.
Specific research questions (following the conceptual model of INSPIRATION):
Demand/Natural Capital:
• Evaluate the potential productivity of land, which cultures can be successfully adapted to local conditions and waste compost alternatives.
Why: Fundamental to decide for which agriculture technologies, which composts, and also for water use efficiency.
Land management:
• Identify necessary technology or operation materials to increase the efficiency of agriculture and food security;
• Study and assess impacts of innovative and sustainable agricultural technologies.
Why: This is fundamental to increase knowledge about economic and technical aspects, and their advantages and disadvantages, useful for farmers and decision-makers. It will provide also knowledge to improve competitiveness and sustainability.
• Understanding how organic agriculture can contribute to sustainable food security and if it should become a priority in development policies related to sustainable agriculture and rural development.
Why: For food security risks and to improve awareness and acceptance among farmers and decision makers.