What is in this article?:
- Ecoservices: Balancing farm production and commerce
- Farm's portfolio of ecoservices
- Sustainability and economic value
EcoCommerce 101, The Emergence of an Invisible Hand to Sustain the Bio-Economy, a new book by Tim Gieseke, is "the culmination of 20 years of seeking solutions to the ecological and economical balance needed within agriculture." The second Green Revolution, he notes, must embrace natural capital values and the values associated with ecoservices, to the extent that it improves the capacity of both on-farm and off-farm resources.
Sustainability and economic value
“If we are to continue to serve the world in which we are entrusted to be good stewards,” Hatfield writes, “then we will have to understand all of the dimensions of sustainable systems, which only come through understanding the economic value.”
Many readers will not be convinced that such a system could ever be implemented, says Gieseke.
“Amazingly, though, as long as someone or some entity deems it to be in their self interest, however narrow or broad, EcoCommerce can emerge and commence….The desire to place economic value on a defined level of sustainability is the impetus for EcoCommerce, the same beginning for all emerging markets.”
Agriculture is a unique industry, he notes, in that it provides 90 percent of the food for the world’s people and is the most intensively-managed ecosystem.
What is being lost, he says, is the production capacity of the natural capital of soil.
“This soil ‘factory’ is being gradually depleted under the production system that provides food for six billion people. A scenario that could put further stress on these ‘food factories’ would be if cellulosic material can be readily converted to liquid fuels or other energy sources. Then the ‘invisible hand’ of the economy will encourage resource mangers to provide both food and fuel stocks to a population that is estimated to be nine billion by 2050.” More than 90 percent of all the crops and livestock consumed, as well as livestock feed, is produced by agro-ecosystems, Gieseke notes.
“Unlike other ecosystems, agro-ecosystems do not occur naturally — they are created and maintained by humans … Agro-ecosystems provide, on average, 24 percent more food per person today than they did in 1961. But by 2020, they will have to supply food for an estimated 1.7 billion more people.
“In essence, the soil factory will have to provide greater production output, while under a management system that will remove additional organic material. Being a finite system it is highly improbable that this type of an economy can maintain the capacity of the natural capital.”