How can we feed a rapidly expanding human population without causing further grave damage to biodiversity? Many argue that the environmental impact of farming might be best limited by linking high farm yields, with sparing natural habitats elsewhere. However, there is a widespread if as-yet untested perception that high-yielding farming techniques involve larger environmental externalities (such as greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient and freshwater depletion) than lower-yielding methods, producing the same quantity of goods. This project, involving the University of Cambridge Department of Zoology, RSPB, the Sainsbury Laboratory and rhe University of Cambridge Veterinary School, will systematically test this proposition across four important agricultural sectors, identify especially promising farming systems characterised by relatively high yields but limited environmental costs, and develop and implement a novel technique for the robust integration of externalities into land-use planning.
This project is funded by the CCI Collaborative Fund for Conservation.