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Research article2007Peer reviewed

Farming in a prosperous way down – a systems ecology approach

Rydberg, Torbjörn; Gustafsson, Gunnela; Boonstra, Wiebren


During the last century, agricultural production worldwide has increased through the use of modern farming technology and non-renewable energy sources. Studies have made clear that agricultural modernization puts a high environmental load on ecological systems, threatening their long-term sustainability. In this paper we use systems ecology and the characteristics of living systems as appropriate models for designing sustainable agricultural systems. Natural ecosystems and their inherent life are scaled to renewable resources and proven sustainability. The identification of alternative ways of farming is crucial in finding a ‘prosperous way down’ for agricultural production. In this paper, three hierarchical levels are proposed to form the basis for a research project on farm scale. The first of these levels deals with crops, the second with animals and the third with farmers. The overall idea is to use the different actions and properties of plants, animals, and farmers in a cooperative way. The different crop species, crop sequences, animal species, and farming styles are evaluated using emergy analysis


agricultural system; ecosystem services; emergy; farming styles; Swedish agricultural landscape; sustainability

Published in

Ecological Questions
2007, Volume: 8/2007, pages: 99-107

      SLU Authors

    • UKÄ Subject classification

      Landscape Architecture
      Agricultural Science
      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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