System of crop intensification for more productive, resource-conserving, climate-resilient, and sustainable agriculture: experience with diverse crops in varying agroecologies


During the latter half of the twentieth century, most
efforts to increase food production were based on apotheosis was dubbed the green revolution, has
raised the output of food, but with substantial and
growing financial and environmental costs, and for
some years it has been encountering diminishing
agronomic and economic returns (Peng et al., 2010;
Pingali, Hossain, & Gerpacio, 1997). At the same
time, it has had some adverse impacts on soil health,

water quality, and biodiversity. For the sake of agricul-
tural sustainability – a quest complicated by con-
straints which emanate from climate change – there

is need to develop some alternatives to the currently
prevailing paradigm for agriculture so that farmers
are not locked in to a single costly and vulnerable
strategy for sustaining food production.

The concept and goal of ‘sustainable intensifica-
tion’ (SI) has received growing support, although

without much agreement on what this means. Some
versions of SI focus on achieving more efficient use
of inputs, emphasizing technologies like high-tech

precision agriculture for field crops, alternative-
wetting-and-drying for irrigated rice production, and

integrated pest and nutrient management to reduce
and optimize the use of agrochemical inputs (e.g.
CSISA, 2015; Heaton et al., 2013; Montpellier Panel,

2013). These approaches do not question the desir-
ability or viability of continuing the current input-
dependence of production strategies. Other versions

of SI, on the other hand, consider how could farmers
become less dependent on external inputs, basing
their agriculture more on making modifications in
the management of their inputs, seeking to capitalize
more effectively and efficiently on the natural
resource base and its inherent capacities (e.g. Pretty,
Toulmin, & Williams, 2011).