Scaling up Sustainable Agriculture and Conservation
Linking global social and environmental change to farmer behavior through analysis of institutions and supply chains.
My research examines interactions between land use, ecosystem services, and economic development at multiple spatial and temporal scales to: 1) better understand the drivers and impacts of land change, and 2) identify policies that can enable broader adoption of conservation and sustainable agricultural practices. I use a “supply chain” approach for all of my work, which means I look at opportunities to improve food systems and land management, not just from the lens of a producer or a consumer, but also at the many stages in between, including food processors, traders, and, retailers. I am particularly interested in how supply chains interact with environmental institutions to shape land use processes, food distribution, and trade.
While this work advances land changes and environmental governance theory, I am most focused on the applied outcomes of my work - finding policy, technology, and market solutions that will help feed a growing world population without compromising the well-being of future generations. I am particularly interested in ways that we can scale up sustainable practices in commercial farming systems, which occupy a majority of the world's land base. One technological solution that I have focused quite a lot on recently is the re-integration of crop, livestock, and tree systems to reduce farmers’ risk to climate change and market fluctuations and to close the loop in nutrient cycles, thereby reducing greenhouse emissions and pollution.
Thus far most of my research has centered on Brazil - a country that has experienced rapid environmental degradation and economic development in its tropical forest and savannah biomes due to agricultural expansion in recent decades. However, I have also pursued work in Indonesia, the United States, Georgia, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Mexico, Jamaica, and New Zealand.