The resilience of integrated agricultural systems to climate change

Juliana D B Gil, Avery S. Cohn, John Duncan, Peter Newton, Sonja Vermeulen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


We reviewed studies addressing the extent to which more integrated agricultural systems (IAS) have been found to be more resilient to climate variability and climate change than more specialized agricultural systems. We found limited literature directly addressing the topic, necessitating the use of proxy measures to enlarge the sample. Where necessary, we used agricultural system richness and diversity as proxies for the presence of the sort of synergistic relationships that typify IAS, interannual climate variability for climate change, and myriad agricultural indicators for resilience. We found that (1) 37 papers addressed the topic either through mathematical modeling or statistical modeling; (2) in the statistical papers, integration was overwhelmingly (n=17/24) associated with increased climate resilience; (3) these findings stemmed mainly from comparisons of more versus less diverse or rich farming systems, while few studies investigated the influence of farm system synergies on resilience; (4) yield, revenue, profit, and yield variance were all used to demonstrate resilience; (5) modeling studies tended to investigate resilience across multiple years, while most statistical approaches tracked single-year outcomes; (6) the IAS-climate resilience links demonstrated were not generalizable across units of analysis, spatiotemporal scale, and from autonomous to directed integration; and (7) few of the articles reviewed identified and measured the mechanism by which IAS were shown to have conferred resilience. Our findings reveal suggestive, although by no means conclusive, evidence that farm system integration can enhance resilience and highlight the need for research to test whether integration policies can have similar outcomes. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere461
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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