Current and Potential Contributions of Organic Agriculture to Diversification of the Food Production System

V. Seufert, Zia Mehrabi, Doreen Gabriel, Tim G. Benton

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Organic agriculture is a system that aims to primarily use ecologic processes rather than external inputs to manage crops and livestock. Diversity is a key component of natural ecosystems and organic agriculture often includes the use of diversity as a management paradigm, as well as the stated goal to enhance diversity. But how does organic agriculture contribute to diversification in practice? And what are the potentials and limits of organic agriculture to enhance the diversity of the food production system? In this chapter, we will examine the evidence for implementation of diversification practices by organic farmers, as well for the diversification outcomes of organic agriculture. We will then conclude with a discussion and outlook on how organic agriculture can enhance the diversification of agroecosystems and the food system in general. On the one hand, large-scale economic drivers today typically favor the homogenization of food production systems, and organic agriculture—being a production system that is embedded in the existing food system—is thus faced with limits in its ability to foster diversification at the system level. On the other hand, multiple drivers, including climate change but also the increased importance of consumers in the food system, may alter the dominant socioeconomic drivers and may favor more resilient organic or organic-like production systems in the future. Organic agriculture may thus provide important contributions for a trajectory for moving toward more diversified food production, not only through diversification occurring within organic systems, but also by providing important lessons on diversified agricultural systems for conventional agriculture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAgroecosystem Diversity
Subtitle of host publicationReconciling Contemporary Agriculture and Environmental Quality
EditorsGilles Lemaire, Paulo Cesar De Faccio Carvalho, Scott Kronberg, Sylvie Recous
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780128110508
ISBN (Print)9780128110508
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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