Sustainable commercialization of new crops for the agricultural bioeconomy

Nicholas R Jordan, K. Dorn, B. Runck, P. Ewing, A. Williams, K. A. Anderson, L. Felice, K. Haralson, Jared J Goplen, K. Altendorf, Adria L Fernandez, W. Phippen, J. Sedbrook, M D Marks, K. Wolf, Donald L Wyse, Gregg A Johnson

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Diversification of agroecological systems to enhance agrobiodiversity is likely to be critical to advancing environmental, economic, and social sustainability of agriculture. Temperate-zone agroecological systems that are currently organized for production of summer-annual crops can be diversified by integration of fallow-season and perennial crops. Integration of such crops can improve sustainability of these agroecological systems, with minimal interference with current agricultural production. Importantly, these crops can provide feedstocks for a wide range of new bio-products that are forming a new agricultural bioeconomy, potentially providing greatly increased economic incentives for diversification. However, while there are many fallow-season and perennial crops that might be used in such a "bioeconomic" strategy for diversification, most are not yet well adapted and highly-marketable. Efforts are underway to enhance adaptation and marketability of many such crops. Critically, these efforts require a strategic approach that addresses the inherent complexity of these projects. We outline a suitable approach, which we term "sustainable commercialization": a coordinated innovation process that integrates a new crop into the agriculture of a region, while intentionally addressing economic, environmental and social sustainability challenges via multi-stakeholder governance. This approach centers on a concerted effort to coordinate and govern innovation in three critical areas: germplasm development, multifunctional agroecosystem design and management, and development of end uses, supply chains, and markets. To exemplify the approach, we describe an ongoing effort to commercialize a new fallow-season crop, field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number000081
StatePublished - 2016

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    Jordan, N. R., Dorn, K., Runck, B., Ewing, P., Williams, A., Anderson, K. A., Felice, L., Haralson, K., Goplen, J. J., Altendorf, K., Fernandez, A. L., Phippen, W., Sedbrook, J., Marks, M. D., Wolf, K., Wyse, D. L., & Johnson, G. A. (2016). Sustainable commercialization of new crops for the agricultural bioeconomy. Elementa, 2016, [000081].