Sustainable Crop Production Intensification

Compendium for Sustainable Crop Production Intensification


The need to feed a growing population is a constant pressure on crop production, as is coping with an increasingly degraded environment and uncertainties resulting from climate change - and the need to adapt farming systems to these. With land scarcity, crop production intensification rather than area expansion becomes the primary option available. Well-managed ecosystems are essential for ensuring a healthy resource base on which to intensify sustainably, to ensure that enough food is produced from now until 2050 (see Looking ahead in World Food and Agriculture: Perspectives to 2050) – and beyond.


In the spotlight:

FAO has recently launched a major new initiative intended to produce more food for a growing world population in an environmentally sustainable way. The new approach calls for targeting mainly smallholder farmers in developing countries. Helping low-income farm families economize on cost of production and build healthy agro-ecosystems will enable them to maximize yields and invest the savings in their health and education.

The Save and Grow approach draws partly on conservation agriculture (CA) techniques which do away with or minimize ploughing and tilling, thus preserving soil structure and health. Other techniques developed that are part of the Save and Grow toolkit include precision irrigation, which delivers more crop for the drop, and "precision placement" of fertilizers, which can double the amount of nutrients absorbed by plants.

Sustainable crop production intensification (SCPI) aims to increase crop production per unit area, taking into consideration all relevant factors affecting productivity and sustainability, including social, political, economic and environmental impacts. With a particular focus on environmental sustainability through an ecosystem approach, SCPI aims to maximize options for crop production intensification through the management of biodiversity and ecosystem services.  

Sustainable Crop Production Intensification

  • Sustainable crop production intensification responds to the need to increase the opportunities for crop production in light of the current and future environmental threats the world is facing, and ultimately responds to the need to increase food production for the forecasted increase in human population. Hence an important aspect of SCPI is that it looks to manage biological processes sustainably to optimize crop production (read the brochure).