A research team led by CIRAD, the organization leading as well IntercropVALUES project, has recently released a scientific publication. The paper proposes a concept for designing, modeling, monitoring, and auditing desired ecosystem services, in intercropping and agroforestry systems, which the scientists have named ESSU (Ecosystem Services functional Spatial Unit). The concept delimits the smallest spatial unit encompassing all the interacting species and other functional components and allows representation of an entire diversified agroecosystem by repetition of the spatial unit.

According to the authors, the concept can be used for various activities, such as:

(i) design of more efficient agroecological systems according to the targeted ecosystem services;

(ii) rapid audit of farming practices for biodiversity/resilience across large tracts of farmland as part of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 targets of sustainable food systems;

(iii) modeling such diversified agroecosystems using a motif adapted to represent the targeted ecosystem services and the species spacing design. They argue that ESSU could open new theoretical and practical research avenues for the study of diversified agroecosystems.

The authors acknowledge the support received from the European Union through the H2020 ReMIX project (redesigning European cropping systems based on species mixtures; grant agreement ID: 727217). We believe it might be of interest to IntercropVALUES followers as well. You can read the complete paper by downloading it here.