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Sustainable intensification in drylands: What Resilience and Vulnerability can tell us

In a world with a fast-growing population, agricultural intensification is addressed as a key strategy to produce more food without increasing the claim for land. In dry areas, where traditional agricultural systems are mainly extensive, the application of standard models of agricultural intensification can have significant environmental and socio-economic implications. In these areas promoting sustainable intensification interventions is as much critical as challenging.  

Highlights

•We apply concepts from vulnerability and resilience to sustainable intensification in drylands.
•We challenge the predominant “security-versus-intensification hypothesis”.
•Some forms of intensification can increase vulnerability and are therefore unsustainable.
•Agricultural intensity is not the inverse of extensivity.
•Sustainable intensification intensifies the most extensive systems, as extensive systems.

One of the major goals of Dryland System is to develop concepts for sustainable intensification in drylands. In dry areas unique environmental and socio-ecologic characteristics pose challenges in intensify production without exacerbating vulnerability. The recently published article “Sustainable intensification in drylands: What resilience and vulnerability can tell us” invite us to rethink the standard concepts of agricultural intensification and suggest how to shape them in order to make them more suitable for agricultural systems in drylands.