As the world population and food production demands rise, keeping agricultural soils and landscapes healthy and productive are of paramount importance to sustaining local and global food security and the flow of ecosystem services to society. The global population, expected to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, will put additional pressure on the available land area and resources for agricultural production. Sustainable production intensification for food security is a major challenge to both industrialized and developing countries.
Introduction Under pressure from continually falling farm gate prices and continually rising costs, the technological approach to farm intensification has been oriented mainly towards crop yields and profit - without considering its negative environmental and social consequences [1–3]. As a matter of economic survival and sustainabilty, farmers all over the world are seeking an alternative to farming systems that depend on nonrenewable sources of energy and their derivatives (mineral fertilizers, especially nitrogen, pesticides), the mouldboard plough, and irrigation.