Essential oil crops for sustainable agriculture - A review

Alessandra Carrubba, Caterina Catalano

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Abstract

Multifunctionality and diversification of farming systems, integration ofagricultural practices both inter se and with the non-agricultural productive systemsoperating on the territory, biodiversity safeguards, and reduction in off-farminputs, are key factors for all modern development strategies in agricultural areas.Such issues are valid worldwide, but are especially true in areas in which the cultivationof the more widespread and “classical” crops is constrained by factors ofvarying degree and importance. In Mediterranean areas, where many environmentaland economic factors often reduce rural areas to marginal conditions, the searchfor new crop opportunities has become one of the newest topics in agriculturalresearch. In this review, we focus on the state-of-the-art cultivation of essential oilcrops (with a special interest in herbs) in Mediterranean environments. The followingare the major points of our analysis. (1) Growing such crops as specializedcultivations, especially for species native to the selected environments, is theonly practical and sustainable way to obtain naturally derived raw matter for bothindustrial and domestic purposes. (2) Most essential oil crops are suitable for manydifferent uses, and fully adaptable for transformation even by small, local manufacturers.(3) In many cases, they may be grown with environmentally friendly ororganic techniques; this enhances their environmental compatibility and also givesthem an additional economical advantage, raising their chances to be addressedin the emerging market sector of “natural” products. Our conclusion is that cropsgrown for the extraction of economically valuable essential oils may be a strategicresource for many environments, even marginal, and that there is scope for farmersto improve the cultivation of such species on arable land. There is room, however,for many agronomic and economic questions to be studied in future experimentationand research.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteClimate change, intercropping, pest control and beneficial microorganisms.
Pagine137-188
Numero di pagine52
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2009

Serie di pubblicazioni

NomeSustainable agriculture reviews

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Carrubba, A., & Catalano, C. (2009). Essential oil crops for sustainable agriculture - A review. In Climate change, intercropping, pest control and beneficial microorganisms. (pagg. 137-188). (Sustainable agriculture reviews).