About this Research Topic
Sustainable intensification of Crop-Tree-Livestock (CTL) systems is critical in order to respond to the demand for Animal Source Foods, while at the same time minimizing or reversing the negative effects of agricultural production on the natural environment. Feed is a key limiting factor - and usually the most expensive input - for livestock production. In mixed CTL systems, cultivated forages, crop residues, and grasslands are the most important feed resources. Livestock, especially ruminants, can convert low-quality biomass into high-quality nutrient-dense foods. Forages allow for the productive utilization of land otherwise temporally (e.g., scarcity or excess of water) or spatially (e.g., high soil acidity, low fertility) not suitable for crop production. Additional ecosystem benefits of improved tropical forages include soil restoration, mitigation of GHG emissions, and more efficient use of nutrient and water resources. The positive or negative effects on biodiversity and on-farm agro-biodiversity would depend on the specific application, e.g. freeing land through increased productivity, which could avoid deforestation but also be an incentive for expansion. Thus, forages contribute to improved resilience of agro-ecosystems and environmental sustainability.
CTL systems in the tropics face increasing resource constraints and are progressively vulnerable to environmental degradation and climate and market shocks. In this Research Topic, we want to identify the multiple win-win situations where forages reduce negative environmental impacts, increase productivity, and resource integrity of smallholder production systems exploring the benefits of a circular systems approach. We also want to assess the biophysical and socio-economic limitations for integrating tropical forages in food systems and identify constraints and opportunities for scaling. Finally, we aim to assess the ecosystem benefits of forage-based production. This contribution explicitly does not address industrial systems.
The scope of this Research Topic includes agricultural production, environmental science, socio-economic considerations, scaling, and adoption, all in the context of tropical forage-based crop-tree-livestock systems. Regionally we focus on the global tropics including Africa, the Americas, and Asia. We welcome contributions related to:
• Adaptation of forages to biotic and abiotic stresses;
• Forage seed supply systems and pathways to adoption and scaling;
• Economic analysis of forage-based crop-livestock-tree systems;
• Integration of tropical forages in smallholder systems;
• Ecosystems services of Tropical Forages.
Keywords: Tropical Forages, Crop-Livestock-Tree Systems, Agricultural Sustainability, Seed supply systems, Ecosystem services, Stress adaptation, Greenhouse Gases, Scaling innovative solutions
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