Enhancing the multifunctionality of us agriculture

Nicholas Jordan, Keith Douglass Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Multifunctional agriculture (MFA) enhances the quality and quantity of benefits provided by agriculture to society, by joint production of both agricultural commodities and a range of ecological services. In developed countries, new agroecosystem designs for MFA are appearing rapidly, but adoptions are limited. We present a heuristic strategy for increasing the adoption of MFA through development of new enterprises that enable farmers to profit from production of both agricultural commodities and ecological services. We propose that such enterprises can arise through feedback between social and biophysical systems operating across a range of scales. Such feedback depends on coordinated innovation among economic actors in a range of interdependent social sectors, supported by new "subsystems" that produce site-specific agroecological knowledge, and by change in the encompassing "supersystem" of public opinion and policy. This strategy can help guide efforts to increase the adoption of MFA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge funding from the National Science Foundation (award BCS-0302393, K. D. W.) and the McKnight Foundation, and thank numerous colleagues for review and critique.


  • Agroecology
  • Biofuels
  • Land-change science
  • Multifunctional agriculture
  • Sustainable development


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