How to Make Agroecosystems Greener
Most of us think of agriculture only as a source of the food that we eat. But current agricultural practices can cause a host of environmental challenges, ranging from overuse of fertilizers, to extensive soil erosion and rapid deforestation. However, innovative approaches to agricultural management can minimize these negative effects and result in environmental and societal benefits.
Dr. Marney Isaac, Canada Research Chair in Agroecosystems and Development, aims to make agriculture more productive, while reducing environmental impacts. She intends to do so by maximizing ecosystem services—benefits, like carbon storage, water-use efficiency, and biodiversity, that can be realized by modifying some agricultural environments.
For example, trees in agricultural fields can cycle soil nutrients, sequester carbon and prevent erosion, as well as contribute to people’s livelihoods. Isaac and her team are measuring tree-crop interactions in order to achieve economic and environmental goals.
With extensive experience in diverse agroecosystems, both in Canada and abroad, Isaac is using a multidisciplinary approach that draws from ecology, soil science, sociology and development studies. Her research is uniquely positioned for understanding the intersection of people and the plants they grow.
Isaac’s research will not only lead to the design of more efficient, resilient, and greener agriculture, but will contribute to our understanding of the links between the biophysical and human aspects of agriculture.