Despite increased food production, modern agricultural systems are inherently leaky and unsustainable, particularly with regard to excessive nutrient mining. This paper uses case studies to investigate the global extent of this issue, specifically the failure of macronutrient (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus) management to deliver continued improvements in yield, and the failure of agriculture to recognise the seriousness of micronutrient depletion (e.g. copper, zinc, selenium). It advises that agricultural sustainability can only be achieved using a whole-systems approach that socially and environmentally re-engineers agricultural systems at all scales.
- Jones, DL, Cross, P, Withers, PJA, DeLuca, TH, Robinson, DA, Quilliam, RS, Harris, IM, Chadwick, DR and Edwards-Jones, G, 2013, Nutrient stripping: the global disparity between food security and soil nutrient stocks, Journal of Applied Ecology, 50, 851-862.