Resilience as a universal criterion of health

J Sci Food Agric. 2015 Feb;95(3):455-65. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6539. Epub 2014 Feb 6.


To promote and maintain health in agricultural and food systems, appropriate criteria are needed for the description and assessment of the health of soils, plants, animals, humans and ecosystems. Here we identify the concept of resilience as a universally applicable and fundamentally important criterion of health in all relevant areas of agriculture. We discuss definitions of resilience for soils, plants, animals, humans and ecosystems, and explore ways in which resilience can be applied as a criterion of health in different agricultural contexts. We show how and why resilience can be seen as a key criterion of health. Based on this, we discuss how resilience can be used as a link between soil, plant, animal, human and ecosystem health. Finally, we highlight four key areas for future research on resilience in agriculture, namely spatial and temporal scaling of resilience; effects of diversity; the role of networks for resilience; and stakeholder involvement.

Keywords: agriculture; concept; health; resilience; stability; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Agriculture*
  • Animals
  • Ecosystem*
  • Food Supply
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Livestock*
  • Plants*
  • Soil*


  • Soil