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Community Event | Café Scientifique | No black and white but colorful agricultural and food systems


When the future of our agricultural and food systems is debated, the discussion often turns into a black and white conversation about organic versus conventional, agroforestry versus monocropping, vegetables versus meat, etc. Based on recent findings, Prof. Six will argue that we should forget about this black and white views, but should see and design our agricultural and food systems much more colorful to make them truly sustainable.

Dr. Six received his PhD in Soil Science in 1998 from Colorado State University. His PhD research was conducted at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL). His research focused on the mechanisms underlying greenhouse gas mitigation by no-tillage practices. Dr. Six remained as a Research Scientist at NREL from 1998 until 2002. He led and was involved in many projects investigating the effect of land use change and management on greenhouse gas fluxes in agricultural, grassland and forest ecosystems. At UCDavis (2002-2012), Dr. Six further developed this line of research with a focus on the feedbacks between ecosystem management options (e.g., tillage, cover cropping, green manuring, sustainable farming, and grazing), global change (e.g., elevated CO2 and climate change), and biogeochemical cycling. Since 2013, Dr. Six is the chair of the Sustainable Agroecosystems Group at ETH-Zurich, where he has continued the research program developed at UCDavis, but with more of an emphasis on landscape analyses and global Food Security. More specifically, he studies the complex interactions between soil (e.g, structure, texture and mineralogy), plants (e.g., diversity, nutrient uptake, and root growth), soil biota (e.g. fungi, bacteria, and earthworms), and the carbon and nitrogen cycles in terrestrial ecosystems, especially agroecosystems. His general approach is to conduct experimental work from the micro- to landscape scale and subsequently integrate it with modeling to interpolate and extrapolate it to the regional and global scale. The modeling has also as goals to identify gaps in our knowledge, generate testable hypotheses, and test the mechanistic bases of biogeochemical models. Furthermore, many projects he conducts are in collaboration with economic and social scientist to holistically assess the sustainability and resilience of agricultural production and food systems.

Dr. Six is a Chancelor’s Fellow of the University of California – Davis, a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Philippe Duchaufour medallist in Soil Science of the European Geoscience Union, a Distinguished Ecologist of Colorado State University, and on the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019 Highly Cited Researchers list of the Web of Science.

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