Agriculture has played an important role in human health and welfare by producing large amounts of food to feed a growing world population, but this has also placed substantial pressures on natural resources and the environment. One of the most pressing challenges in agriculture is how to ensure food security and promote long-term social-economic development while maintaining healthy, sustainable ecosystems capable of quickly adapting to changing environments. Previous studies demonstrated the positive impact of mixed planting strategies on crop productivity as a consequence of reduced disease impact. Here we present data from a series of trials involving within-species diversification of potatoes grown under smallholding conditions, showing that the benefits of mixed planting strategies extend beyond increases in yield, production resilience and reductions in disease, to increased soil microbial diversity, improved soil nutrients and reduced evolution in the associated Phytophthora infestans pathogen. Taken together, these synergistic benefits provide a good opportunity for achieving sustainable agriculture.
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Diverse approaches to crop diversification in agricultural research. A review
Agronomy for Sustainable Development Open Access 20 April 2020
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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant Nos. U1405213, 31761143010 and 31460368) and the China Agriculture Research System (No. CARS-09-P20).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Yang, LN., Pan, ZC., Zhu, W. et al. Enhanced agricultural sustainability through within-species diversification. Nat Sustain 2, 46–52 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-018-0201-2
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