The New Way to
The study of traditional agrarian systems can provide useful knowledge for improving the sustainability of present-day agriculture. Nonetheless, with the loss of traditional agro-ecosystems and the rationale that guides them, as has happened in Europe, an historical research approach can have a decisive role to play in recapturing this knowledge. In this article we study the evolution of a typical Mediterranean agro-ecosystem during the last 250 years,supporting the claim that high diversity and the internalization of energy ﬂows and nutrient cycles found in traditional agriculture, are not only characteristics of the greatest sustainability of such systems, but are based in the need for additional land in production. This claim requires the dedication of land to diverse and complementary uses that leave a footprint on the landscape. Organic agriculture needs to consider this “land cost”, meanwhile trying to minimize it in order to improve its actual degree of sustainability.