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Agriculture in boreal and Arctic regions requires an integrated global approach for research and policy
Agronomy for Sustainable Development  (IF5.832),  Pub Date : 2021-03-23, DOI: 10.1007/s13593-021-00676-1
Daniel Altdorff, Nils Borchard, Erika H. Young, Lakshman Galagedara, Jaana Sorvali, Sylvie Quideau, Adrian Unc

Under food security concerns and accelerated global warming, northern regions are becoming new agricultural frontiers. While diverse regional, national, and local policies support northern agricultural intensification and expansion through land use conversion, the scope and environmental consequences of northern agriculture are yet to be fully understood. As northern agriculture is poised to increase its role in both the local and global food production, its sustainable growth depends on a comprehensive understanding of opportunities and challenges. To evaluate the current perception of the status of northern agricultural research and the extent to which there is a need for a coordinated approach to its growth, we developed a targeted survey delivered online. Questions are aimed at revealing similarities and discrepancies in the awareness of northern agriculture and obtaining feedback on the need for a global synchronization of research and development. Out of 309 respondents, a curated dataset of 238 respondents was employed for analysis. This included respondents with knowledge and expertise in boreal and/or Arctic agriculture (41%), of temperate and/or alpine agriculture (37%), and other respondents (22%). Most are involved in agricultural (60%) or applied environmental (23.5%) sciences. Results revealed that scientists working in the northern regions are cautiously optimistic about climate change–driven expansion of northern agriculture while also realistic about the need for environmentally sustainable agricultural systems. Respondents with limited exposure to northern agriculture were more pessimistic about its expansion. Surprisingly, there was a limited and inconsistent knowledge of extant networks and research entities focusing on northern agriculture research. Nevertheless, there was a strong consensus that a concerted approach among multiple disciplines and across global regions would benefit northern agriculture and its ongoing growth. The survey’s results illuminate for the very first time the need for better coordination and a greater emphasis on northern agriculture under climate change.