Middle-way strategies for sustainable intensification of agriculture

Nicholas R. Jordan, Adam S. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sustainable intensification is a widely shared idealistic vision for agriculture, in which production and other ecosystem services jointly increase to meet the future needs of humanity and the biosphere. Realizing this vision will require an outcome-driven approach that draws on all available practices and technologies to design agroecosystems that negotiate the difficult trade-offs associated with reconciling sustainability along production, economic, and environmental performance dimensions. To create such "middle-way" strategies for sustainable intensification, we call for strongly transdisciplinary research systems that coordinate integrative research among major streams of agriculture via ethical and philosophical orientation provided by "purposive disciplines," such as applied ethics and design. Middle-way research partnerships can be strengthened by linking outcomes to mutually agreeable goals, such as "net agroecosystem aggradation." We illustrate our proposals by outlining a potential middle-way strategy for weed management, describing its ethical rationale, and suggesting a research policy agenda for sustainable intensification via middle-way agriculture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-519
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 28 2015


  • Agroecology
  • Innovation
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Sustainable development
  • Transdisciplinary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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