Farming for natural profits in China

2nd April 2019

A new strategy being rolled out in China relies on the idea that farmers can harvest much more than crops. The idea is that well-managed, diverse agricultural lands can provide flood control, water purification and climate stabilization, among other valuable services.

A recent case-study by researchers at Stanford, McGill University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences provide a promising demonstration of this approach -- farmers who took environmental concerns into account doubled their incomes and reduced reliance on a single harvest while also gaining environmental benefits from the land. The group said the approach could help farmers worldwide protect both the environment and their livelihoods.

"Twentieth century monoculture farms greatly increased agricultural production, but at a huge price," said Gretchen Daily, cofounder and faculty director of the Stanford Natural Capital Project.

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