Biomimicry in Agriculture: Is the Ecological System-Design Model the Future Agricultural Paradigm?
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Comprising almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions and having an equally prominent role in pollution of soils, fresh water, coastal ecosystems, and food chains in general, agriculture is, alongside industry and electricity/heat production, one of the three biggest anthropogenic causes of breaching the planetary boundaries. Most of the problems in agriculture, like soil degradation and diminishing (necessary) biodiversity, are caused by unfit uses of existing technologies and approaches mimicking the agriculturally-relevant functioning natural ecosystems seem necessary for appropriate organization of our toxic and entropic agro-technologies. Our thesis is that eco-curative and sustainable uses of agro-technology require a paradigm shift from the chemical model of agro-systems to the ecological system-design model of agriculture. Particularly, following the new biomimetic paradigm of ecological innovation, we question in what sense can we mimic natural solutions in agriculture. We discern among Integrated agriculture and Permaculture, analyze their biomimetic status from the perspective of the philosophy of biomimicry, and argue that the former nature-mentored approach (contrary to the latter nature-modeled approach) is a more appropriate solution for sustainable broadscale agriculture necessary for the growing world. However, it is not clear how this agricultural bio-integration will interact with the predicted automatization of work, urban demographic momentum, and the Earth system instability, and can the Permaculture alternative emerge as a social safety-net for the anticipated technologically-redundant or economically or environmentally endangered workers. We argue both for the importance to understand Permaculture as a social safety-net and as experimental testing ground for cutting edge biomimetic technologies.
KeywordsSustainable agriculture Biomimicry Anthropocene Ecological design Integrated agriculture Permaculture
This work has been funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological development of the Government of Serbia.
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