Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 30, Number 1, January-March 2010
|Page(s)||1 - 10|
|Published online||02 February 2010|
INRA, UA1267, Agronomy for Sustainable Development,
INRA-CMSE-PME, 17 rue
2 INRA, UA1267, Agronomy for Sustainable Development, UR 50, Laboratoire de Biotechnologie de l’Environnement, avenue des Étangs, 11100 Narbonne, France
3 INRA, UR 767 Écodéveloppement, 84914 Avignon Cedex 09, France
4 INRA, UMR AGIR, BP 52627, 31326 Toulouse Cedex, France
5 EDP Sciences, Parc d’Activités de Courtaboeuf, BP 112, 17 avenue du Hoggar, 91944 Les Ulis Cedex A, France
* Corresponding author:
Accepted: 27 November 2009
Climate change and the recent financial crisis clearly show that humans have entered the anthropocene, an unprecedented era of fast and possibly dangerous changes. Unprecedented changes call for unprecedented thinking. Indeed, agricultural research has been for too long driven solely by the need for higher yields using classical agrosciences, whatever the adverse ecological effects. Agricultural research needs the input of other sciences such as ecological, economic, social and political sciences. These social sciences emerged in agricultural research a few decades ago, but there are currently no precise trends and data on the speed of emergence of specific topics. Therefore, here we report: (1) an analysis of the emergence of topics in the journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development, and (2) a review of selected articles published in 2009. First, to analyse topic emergence we studied three data sets: most-cited articles from 1999 to 2009, topic hits in article text from 1999 to 2009, and most-downloaded articles in 2009. We found the following major points. Most-cited articles show that transgenic plants and biofuels are clearly emerging topics from 2007, whereas soil carbon and climate change are the major mainstream topics of the last 10 years. Topic hits analysis allows one to rank topics by mean emergence date, e.g. 2008.3 for ’genetically modified’ and 2005.3 for ’irrigation’. Accordingly, the 10 most emerging topics over 1999–2009 are biofuels, genetically modified, conservation agriculture, urban agriculture, sociology, organic farming, carbon sequestration, phytoremediation, mulch and biodiversity. Analysis of most-downloaded articles in 2009 shows the predominance of topics such as carbon, climate, biodiversity, biofuels, pollutants, beneficial microbes, transgenic plants and organic farming. Second, we reviewed selected articles published in 2009 with emphasis on emerging topics. We find that sociology is clearly bringing novel and unexpected findings to designing sustainable agriculture. Transgenic crops are highly innovative but show many unknowns that need to be carefully studied using various disciplines. Climate change has many scientifically proven effects on terrestrial ecosystems and agriculture. Here, soil carbon loss should be of particular attention because it rules the long-term fate of many factors such as atmospheric CO2, erosion, and water and nutrient supply. Biodiversity loss due to industrial monocropping is leading scientists to disclose alternative, more diverse cropping systems that optimise biodiversity, pest control and yield.
Key words: agriculture / climate change / biofuel / transgenic plants / biodiversity / sociology / organic farming / conservation agriculture / urban agriculture / industrial agriculture / carbon sequestration / soil carbon / crop rotation / no tillage / beneficial microbes / citation analysis / topic emergence analysis / most-cited articles / most-downloaded articles
© INRA, EDP Sciences, 2010