Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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    Impacts of intensifying or expanding cereal cropping in sub-Saharan Africa on greenhouse gas emissions and food security
    Loon, Marloes P. van; Hijbeek, Renske ; Berge, Hein F.M. ten; Sy, Veronique De; Broeke, Guus A. ten; Solomon, Dawit ; Ittersum, Martin K. van - \ 2019
    Global Change Biology 25 (2019)11. - ISSN 1354-1013 - p. 3720 - 3730.
    fertilizer - food self-sufficiency - intensification - land use conversion - nitrogen - nutrient use efficiency - yield gaps

    Cropping is responsible for substantial emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) worldwide through the use of fertilizers and through expansion of agricultural land and associated carbon losses. Especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), GHG emissions from these processes might increase steeply in coming decades, due to tripling demand for food until 2050 to match the steep population growth. This study assesses the impact of achieving cereal self-sufficiency by the year 2050 for 10 SSA countries on GHG emissions related to different scenarios of increasing cereal production, ranging from intensifying production to agricultural area expansion. We also assessed different nutrient management variants in the intensification. Our analysis revealed that irrespective of intensification or extensification, GHG emissions of the 10 countries jointly are at least 50% higher in 2050 than in 2015. Intensification will come, depending on the nutrient use efficiency achieved, with large increases in nutrient inputs and associated GHG emissions. However, matching food demand through conversion of forest and grasslands to cereal area likely results in much higher GHG emissions. Moreover, many countries lack enough suitable land for cereal expansion to match food demand. In addition, we analysed the uncertainty in our GHG estimates and found that it is caused primarily by uncertainty in the IPCC Tier 1 coefficient for direct N2O emissions, and by the agronomic nitrogen use efficiency (N-AE). In conclusion, intensification scenarios are clearly superior to expansion scenarios in terms of climate change mitigation, but only if current N-AE is increased to levels commonly achieved in, for example, the United States, and which have been demonstrated to be feasible in some locations in SSA. As such, intensifying cereal production with good agronomy and nutrient management is essential to moderate inevitable increases in GHG emissions. Sustainably increasing crop production in SSA is therefore a daunting challenge in the coming decades.

    Under Pressure : Conceptualising Political Ecologies of Green Wars
    Büscher, Bram ; Fletcher, Robert - \ 2018
    Conservation and Society 16 (2018)2. - ISSN 0972-4923 - p. 105 - 113.
    conservation - green violence - intensification - political ecology - political economy
    This article introduces the special issue on 'Political Ecologies of Green Wars' and the research papers comprising it. While state-authorised and state-directed forms of violence in support of conservation have been evident in many places for quite some time, the current scope, scale and rhetorical justification of the violent defence of biodiversity seem quite unprecedented in the history of global conservation. We, therefore, ask whether and how the term green wars may be appropriate to describe this new intensity of violence and the changes in environmental governance it signifies. In bringing together a number of important recent discussions around green grabbing, green militarisation/violence, green economy, neoliberal conservation and biopower, amongst others, the special issue emphasises the increasingly central role of environmental and conservation concerns within the global political economy as a whole. In the process, it also points towards an overarching conceptual framing for understanding these conjoined dynamics in terms of an 'intensification of pressure' precipitated by the combined yet uneven magnification and integration of power and capital within the world today. Consequently, we argue that the concept of green wars potentially heralds the new twenty-first century 'real-politik' of the centrality of violence and conflict both to the neoliberal political economy and to environmental conservation, and their integrated socio-ecological manifestations and effects.
    A comprehensive assessment of agriculture in lowlands of south Brazil: characterization and comparison of current and alternative concepts
    Theisen, Giovani - \ 2017
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): N.P.R. Anten, co-promotor(en): L. Bastiaans. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789463436380 - 234
    cropping systems - farming systems - crop management - lowland areas - wetlands - pampas - brazil - intensification - sustainability - productivity - indicators - soil management - rice - flooded rice - oryza sativa - maize - zea mays - glycine max - cover crops - livestock - rotation - mixed farming - seedbed preparation - farm machinery - teeltsystemen - bedrijfssystemen - gewasteelt - laaglandgebieden - wetlands - pampa's - brazilië - intensivering - duurzaamheid (sustainability) - productiviteit - indicatoren - bodembeheer - rijst - natte rijst - oryza sativa - maïs - zea mays - glycine max - dekgewassen - vee - rotatie - gemengde landbouw - zaaibedbereiding - landbouwwerktuigen

    Agriculture in the lowlands of south Brazil is of strategic importance at the national level, since it supplies around 80% of the rice consumed by the Brazilian population. In Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state in Brazil, three million hectares of lowlands are ready for grain-based agriculture. Of this area, about half is fallow, partly used for cattle grazing, and irrigated rice is the predominant crop, cultivated annually on 1.1 million ha. The remaining area is used for soybean and other crops. The predominant cropping system is a combination of irrigated rice and cattle. Over the last decades, rice yields have steadily increased, but this rise in yield level has to a large extent been obtained at the expense of a continuously higher use of external inputs. The recent introduction of soybean in rotation with rice has partially improved the system, but in most areas the situation is becoming incompatible with the modern demands for sustainability. This thesis presents a long-term study (2006-2015) of five cropping systems for lowlands. Next to monocrop rice and two rice-soybean rotations conducted in either conventional or minimum tillage, the experiment contained two novel systems based on large ridges, on which soybean and maize were combined with either cover crops or crop-livestock integration in winter. In these last systems, 8-m-wide ridges were built to avoid flooding, thus allowing for diversification of cash crops and the cultivation of cover crops or pastures in winter time, as well as the use of no-tillage. All systems were evaluated at process-level, including soil preparation, seeding, plant nutrition, pest management, irrigation, harvesting, transport and cattle management, as well as regarding their performance for the different dimensions of sustainability, particularly environment, land productivity, economics, energy-use and labour. Next to system assessment, two additional experiments were conducted for the evaluation of two specific technologies for soil management in these areas. Crop livestock integration on the ridge-based system offered the best balance between food production, environmental impact and economics. This system is well suited to be used in fields that are kept fallow, thereby enlarging the agricultural productivity of the lowlands. The additional experiments revealed that a knife-roller can successfully substitute plough-and-harrow for soil preparation after rice harvest, and that germination of weed seeds can be reduced if crop seeding is conducted at a lower speed or using a no-tillage seeder equipped with an improved cutting mechanism. Overall the results show that by using alternative cropping systems that allow for diversification and new methods of field management it is possible to simultaneously attain a larger agricultural production and improved sustainability in the lowlands.

    Breeding strategies for sustainable intensification of developing smallholder dairy cattle production systems
    Kariuki, Charles Mbogo - \ 2017
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): J. Komen, co-promotor(en): J.A.M. Arendonk; A.K. Kahi. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789463430951 - 134
    dairy cattle - small businesses - sustainable animal husbandry - intensification - breeding programmes - progeny testing - genetic improvement - dairy performance - developing countries - melkvee - kleine bedrijven - duurzame veehouderij - intensivering - veredelingsprogramma's - nakomelingenonderzoek - genetische verbetering - melkresultaten - ontwikkelingslanden

    Smallholder dairy cattle production systems in Africa are intensifying production through importation of germplasm from breeding programs conducted in temperate regions to improve commercial cow populations. Presence of genotype by environment interaction results in unfavorable correlated responses. The aim this thesis was to develop strategies for breeding programs in developing countries that can support sustainable intensification of these systems. Specific objectives were (a) to determine desired gains for breeding objective traits, (b) compare progeny testing (PT) and genomic selection (GS) selection strategies, (c) evaluate the economic performance of PT and GS selection strategies and (d) compare genetic gains for economic and non-economic breeding objectives; the Kenya dairy cattle sector was used as a working example. To account for the limited pedigree and performance recording, a five-trait breeding objective and small-sized breeding program were studied. Breeding objective traits, determined based on producer preferences, were milk yield (MY), production lifetime (PLT), calving interval (CI), fat yield (FY) and mature body weight (MBW). Producers were categorized into high intensive group, who placed highest preference on PLT and MY, and low intensity group that placed highest preferences on CI and PLT. MY and FY were the most important traits for processors. Consensus desired gains, based on weighted goal programming, were 2.51, 2.42, 0.22, 0.87 and 0.15% for PLT, MY, CI, FY and MBW, respectively. Comparison of breeding schemes shows that GS schemes had lower accuracies but gave higher responses per year due to shorter generation intervals. Besides genetic gains, economic performance underpins the adoption of selection strategies. GS schemes had between 3.2 and 5.2-fold higher cumulated genetic gain in the commercial cow population and higher gross margins compared to PT schemes. Semen storage made PT schemes more profitable but less so than GS schemes. Functional traits can increase the sustainability of resource poor smallholder systems under harsh environments. Economic breeding objectives yielded undesirable responses in functional traits. Breeding objectives based on desired gains or non-market objectives improved response in functional traits but at a monetary cost. It is concluded that sustainable productivity of smallholder systems can be improved by implementation of local breeding program based on GS, but this requires more emphasis on functional traits, which can be achieved by use of non-economic objectives.

    Exploring opportunities for rural livelihoods and food security in Central Mozambique
    Leonardo, Wilson José - \ 2017
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): K.E. Giller, co-promotor(en): G.W.J. van de Ven; H.M.J. Udo. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789463431651 - 183
    agricultural production systems - food security - crop production - livelihoods - small farms - biofuels - farming systems - models - intensification - mozambique - agrarische productiesystemen - voedselzekerheid - gewasproductie - middelen van bestaan - kleine landbouwbedrijven - biobrandstoffen - bedrijfssystemen - modellen - intensivering - mozambique

    Growing awareness of widespread hunger and poverty in many countries in the SSA is spurring a focus on productivity increase in smallholder farming systems. The rationale is that with current production systems many SSA countries are not keeping pace with population growth and changing of peoples’ lifestyles. To respond to this challenge the Government of Mozambique developed its Strategic Plan for Agricultural Development (PEDSA) aiming to improve agricultural productivity of the majority of smallholder farmers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Smallholder farmers are diverse in terms of resources and aspirations. The main objectives of this study are first to understand the diversity among maize-based smallholder farms and their current constraints in improving agricultural productivity in the Manica Plateau, Central Mozambique, and second, building on that understanding to explore options for biomass production either for food, cash or biofuel at farm level and contributions to maize availability in the region. The study was conducted in the Dombe and Zembe Administrative Posts. Farmers in the two posts cultivate both food and cash crops using the same resources, however, distances to the urban market differ, with Zembe close and Dombe far away from the markets. In addition, the agroecological conditions for crop production are more favourable in Dombe compared with Zembe. Using farm surveys, direct observations and on-farm measurements, followed by Principal Components Analysis (PCA) I identified land and labour as the variables that can best explain the variability found among smallholder farms (Chapter 2). Based on these variables I categorised farms into four Farm Types (FT): FT1. Large farms (4.4 ha in Dombe and 2.2 ha in Zembe), hiring in labour; FT2. Intermediate sized farms (1.9-1.2 ha), hiring in and out labour; FT3a. Small farms (1.1-0.9 ha), sharing labour; and FT3b. Small farms (1.0-0.7 ha), hiring out labour. The maize yield and maize labour productivities were higher on large farms (2.3 t ha-1 in Dombe and 2.0 t ha-1 in Zembe; 2.5×10-3 t h-1 in Dombe and 2.6 ×10-3 t h-1 in Zembe) compared with small farms (1.5 t ha-1 in Dombe and 1.1 t ha-1 in Zembe; 1.4×10-3 t h-1 in Dombe and 0.9×10-3 t h-1 in Zembe). The hiring in labour from small farms allowed large farms to timely weed their fields. Small farms were resource constrained and hired out labour (mutrakita) for cash or food to the detriment of weeding their own fields, resulting in poor crop yields. Excessive alcohol consumption by small farms also raised concerns on labour quality. Chapter 3 explored options aiming at addressing farmers’ objectives of being maize self-sufficient and increased gross margin and the contribution to national objective of producing food. A bio-economic farm model was used to investigate two pathways to increase agricultural production: (i) extensification, expanding the current cultivated area; and (ii) intensification, increasing input use and output per unit of land.

    In the extensification pathway I considered the use of animal traction, herbicides and cultivators to save labour, whereas in the intensification pathway I explored the use improved varieties of maize, sesame, sunflower, pigeonpea and fertilizers. I focused on the large farms and the small farms hiring out labour as they represent both sides of the spectrum. The simulated results showed that combining labour and labour saving technologies substantially increased both gross margin and maize yields of large and small farms in both posts. Minor trade-offs is observed on large farms between the two goals whereas for small farms we see synergies between the goals. We concluded that prospects for increasing gross margin and food production are much better for large farms in Dombe compared with other farms. In Dombe, the maximum gross margin of large farms was 7530 $ y-1 per farm and maximum maize sales of 30.4 t y-1 per farm. In Zembe, the maximum gross margin of large farms (2410 $ y-1 per farm) and maximum maize sales (9.5 t y-1 per farm) were comparable to small farms in Dombe. I further assessed the impact of two biofuel investments (jatropha plantation and sunflower outgrower schemes) on farm level food security (food availability, access to food, stability of food, utilization of food). The results showed positive impact on small farms from employment on a jatropha plantation by increasing access to food and no impacts on intermediate and large farms. Impacts on food security from the sunflower outgrower scheme were minor which may be explained by the poor yields.

    The need to link smallholder farmers to markets has been increasingly recognized as important strategy to promote rural development and poverty reduction. I developed an analytical framework, the Windmill Approach that looked at decision making at farm level to grow certain crops and at transaction strategies (Chapter 5). Through this framework I showed that a farmer decision to participate in a particular (new) value chain is determined by (a) the suitability of the new crop in the farm system (including the adaptability of the current farm system), and (b) the farmer’s experience with selling in various value chains. This has major policy implications as it highlights that to support smallholder farmers access to markets a holistic approach is needed that combines farming systems analysis and transaction cost theory.

    In order to explore the opportunities for smallholder development there is need to understand the diversity of farms and farmers’ social and economic context. For large farms, in Central Mozambique farms with on average 2-4 ha of land, opportunities to improve their livelihoods through crop production can follow two pathways: intensification and extensification. Smallholders continue to produce staple food crops even when working on a plantation or participating in outgrower schemes. For small farms, off-farm opportunities such as those in a biofuel plantation are the best options to improve their livelihoods.

    Quality upgrading in ethiopian dairy value chains : dovetailing upstream and downstream perspectives
    Ruben, Ruerd ; Dekeba Bekele, Alemayehu ; Megersa Lenjiso, Birhanu - \ 2017
    Review of Social Economy 75 (2017)3. - ISSN 0034-6764 - p. 296 - 317.
    Dairy - Ethiopia - intensification - preferences - quality

    In this article, we analyze opportunities and constraints for upgrading product quality in the dairy value chain in Ethiopia. Our analysis is based on an integrated understanding of supply chain performance both from producer and from consumer perspectives. We outline as main drivers for quality upgrading: (a) factors that influence producers’ willingness to invest toward intensification by smallholder dairy farmers and cooperatives and (b) factors that induce consumer’s willingness to pay for healthy and nutritious dairy products delivered at specific retail outlets. Since there are large gaps between upstream producers incentives and downstream consumers motives, possibilities for dairy quality upgrading remain fairly limited. Given this market structure, decisive policy support is required for better tailoring producer’s investments with consumer preferences.

    Greening of Ethiopian Dairy Value Chains: evaluation of environmental impacts and identification of interventions for sustainable intensification of dairy value chains
    Vries, Marion de; Yigrem, Sintayehu ; Vellinga, Theun - \ 2016
    Wageningen : Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Livestock Research report 948) - 69
    dairy herds - dairy performance - improvement - dairy industry - sustainability - nutrient use efficiency - environmental impact - intensification - ethiopia - melkveestapel - melkresultaten - verbetering - zuivelindustrie - duurzaamheid (sustainability) - nutriëntengebruiksefficiëntie - milieueffect - intensivering - ethiopië
    Sustainable intensification pathways for dairy farming in Kenya : A case study for PROIntensAfrica WP2, Deliverable 2.3
    Lee, Jan van der; Omedo Bebe, Bockline ; Oosting, Simon - \ 2016
    Wageningen : Wageningen Livestock Research (Livestock Research report 997) - 53
    dairy farming - intensification - sustainable animal husbandry - kenya - melkveehouderij - intensivering - duurzame veehouderij - kenya
    Agricultural intensification in Nepal, with particular reference to systems of rice intensification
    Uprety, Rajendra - \ 2016
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Thomas Kuijper, co-promotor(en): Harro Maat. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462579651 - 190
    rice - oryza sativa - nepal - asia - south asia - intensification - livelihoods - livelihood strategies - farming systems - farming - crop management - fertilizers - nutrients - irrigation - varieties - rijst - oryza sativa - nepal - azië - zuid-azië - intensivering - middelen van bestaan - strategieën voor levensonderhoud - bedrijfssystemen - landbouw bedrijven - gewasteelt - kunstmeststoffen - voedingsstoffen - irrigatie - rassen (planten)

    This thesis deals with agricultural intensification in Nepal. The initial focus of the study was the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), as introduced in Nepal from 2001. The multiple factors affecting SRI adoption, modification and dissemination together with the option to apply SRI in different combinations of its components result in a variety of SRI applications. For the same reason the effect of SRI on overall agricultural and livelihood development of Nepalese farmers has to be evaluated within the variety of farming systems in which it is applied.

    Despite government policies to promote rice cultivation, national rice production is declining. Farmer livelihood strategies, as reflected in rice farming systems, and field management strategies were influenced by several agro-ecological and socio-economic factors. Livelihood and field management strategies of rice farmers are interconnected. In the study presented here four livelihood strategies and three kinds of field management strategies are distinguished. Two livelihood strategies can be characterized as more intensive and more productive; the other two are less intensive and less productive. Livelihood strategies are more family resource-based strategies, while farmers’ field management strategies are more context-dependent. Field management strategies were characterized by forms of nutrient management. Intensive management strategies had most similarities with SRI. But rice intensification is not achievable as a general strategy.

    Government policies (fertiliser subsidies) encourage increased fertiliser use. Study results didn't show any significant effect of volume of fertilisers on rice yield but the combined use of organic manure and mineral fertilisers resulted in the highest average rice yields. Irrigation management is another important factor for rice production. Field management is influenced by the reliability of water which was better in farmers' managed irrigation system. Choice of rice varieties influenced the overall rice farming system and cropping intensity and preference of varieties for rice cultivation by scientists and by farmers were different in eastern Nepal. Most popular varieties were those not recommended by science and policy and were disseminated farmer to farmer.

    The introduction of SRI in Morang district resulted in several changes in rice farming, but only part of the farmers have adopted such technologies, and adoption has been only in part of their fields. Other farmers have incorporated some SRI practices in their conventional practices. After the introduction of SRI, farmers further tested, re-packaged or hybridized SRI methods to make SRI ideas suitable for their agro-ecological and socio-economic environments. In order to reform Nepalese rice farming, we need to recognize that different farmers, with different livelihood strategies, and with access to different kinds of fields, need different forms for agricultural intensification. High-intensive farmers prefer to use modified SRI methods where there is good irrigation and drainage facilities. There are many possibilities for improvement of the existing nutrient management practices of rice farmers in Nepal. Nutrient management will be useful to increase rice production because the majority of farmers currently use fertilisers non-judiciously. The SRI-recommended practices (younger seedlings, early weeding, use of organic manure, and alternate wetting and drying (AWD) irrigation) will be useful to improve the nutrient use efficiency of rice farmers. Cost-reduction strategies and less labour-intensive cultivation practices will be appropriate options to improve existing rice farming system of Nepal. Participatory cultivar selection and dissemination will be better strategies to introduce new, promising rice cultivars among rice farmers.

    Crop intensification options and trade-offs with the water balance in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia
    Debas, Mezegebu - \ 2016
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Martin van Ittersum, co-promotor(en): Huib Hengsdijk; Katrien Descheemaeker. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462578616 - 178
    cropping systems - intensification - water balance - crop production - land use - climatic change - crop yield - water use - irrigation - ethiopia - teeltsystemen - intensivering - waterbalans - gewasproductie - landgebruik - klimaatverandering - gewasopbrengst - watergebruik - irrigatie - ethiopië

    The Central Rift Valley (CRV) of Ethiopia is a closed basin for which claims on land and water have strongly increased over the past decade resulting in over-exploitation of the resources. A clear symptom is the declining trend in the water level of the terminal Lake Abyata. The actual productivity of most cereals in the CRV is less than 2 t ha-1 associated with low input use and poor crop management. Consequently, there are two major development objectives in the CRV, i.e. producing sufficient food for the increasing population, while at the same time ensuring efficient use of limited water and land resources under variable and changing climate conditions. The low productive cereal systems and a declining resource base call for options to increase crop productivity and improve resource use efficiency in order to meet the growing demand for food.

    In this thesis, the recent impacts were quantified of climate change, land use change and irrigation water abstraction on water availability of Lake Abyata of the CRV. The trends in lake levels, river discharges, basin rainfall, temperature and irrigation development (ca. 1975-2008) were analysed and the additional evapotranspiration loss resulting from temperature change and irrigated land were computed. We also analysed land use change (1990-2007) and the associated changes in runoff. Results showed that temperature has increased over 34 years (p<0.001) whereas annual rainfall has not changed significantly. Consequently, increased evapotranspiration consumed 62 and 145 Mm3 of additional water from lakes and land surface, respectively, during 1990-2007. Furthermore, an estimated 285 Mm3yr-1 of water was abstracted for irrigation in 2009 of which approximately 170 Mm3yr-1 is irrecoverable evapotranspiration loss. In addition, surface runoff has increased in the upper, and decreased in lower sub-basins of the CRV associated with extensive land use change (1990-2007).

    We analysed a large number of data from farmers’ fields (>10,000) and experimental data across the CRV from 2004-2009 to quantify the gaps (Yg) between actual (farm) and experimental (water-limited potential - Yw) yields of maize and wheat in homogenous farming zones. We found that the average (2004-2009) yield gap of maize and wheat ranged between 4.2-9.2 t ha-1, and 2.5-4.7 t ha-1, respectively, across farming zones. The actual N and P application in farmers’ fields was low, as about 46% of maize and 27% of wheat fields did not receive fertilisers. We calibrated, validated and used the Agricultural Production System Simulator (APSIM) model to explore intensification options and their trade-offs with water losses through evapotranspiration. Variety selection and N fertilization were more important for yield gap closure than crop residue management and planting density, and the magnitude of their effect depended on soil type and climate. There was a trade-off between intensification and water use through evapotranspiration, as increasing yield comes at the cost of increased transpiration. However, this trade-off can be minimized by choosing location-specific N levels at which both water use efficiency (WUE) and gross margin are maximised. These application rates varied between 75 and 250 kg N ha-1 across locations and soils, and allowed producing 80% of Yw of maize and wheat. Climate change was projected to lower Yw of maize and wheat by ca. 15-25% and 2-30%, respectively, compared to current climate conditions.

    An automated gridded simulation framework was developed to scale up the promising intensification options from field scale to basin scale. We then aggregated basin scale production and identified trade-offs between production and water use for different land use scenarios. This procedure allowed designing land use scenarios based on a spatially explicit optimization of WUE and gross margin per grid cell. Consequences of land use scenarios for food production and water use at basin level were evaluated. Results of the different land use scenarios demonstrated that crop intensification options for which WUE and gross margin are maximised can meet the projected food demand (year 2050) of the growing population in the CRV while at the same time saving large areas of the currently cultivated land. In the intensification scenarios total water loss through evapotranspiration from agricultural land is reduced compared with water loss from current cultivated land and low crop productivity levels.

    It is concluded that the current land use together with climate change and water abstraction for irrigation negatively affected the basin level water balance in CRV over the past decade. Furthermore, the scope for further expansion of farmland to increase food production is very limited. The focus should, therefore, be towards intensification also because the existing yield gaps are huge and hence the scope for intensification is large. Model-based exploration of intensification options can be used to prioritize promising options, to close the yield gap and for quantifying trade-offs. Scaling up of promising options allows to assess whether the food demand of the growing population can be met while at the same time saving the less productive land and water per unit agricultural product.

    Trajectories of agricultural change in southern Mali
    Falconnier, G.N. - \ 2016
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Ken Giller, co-promotor(en): Katrien Descheemaeker; T.A. van Mourik. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462577596 - 209
    agriculture - agricultural development - farms - classification - self sufficiency - food - income - intensification - farming systems - intensive production - mali - landbouw - landbouwontwikkeling - landbouwbedrijven - classificatie - zelfvoorziening - voedsel - inkomen - intensivering - bedrijfssystemen - intensieve productie - mali

    Key words: longitudinal study, farm typology, food self-sufficiency, income, legumes, ex-ante analysis, participatory research, scenario.

    Smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa provides basis of rural livelihoods and food security, yet farmers have to cope with land constraints, variable rainfall and unstable institutional support. This study integrates a diversity of approaches (household typology and understanding of farm trajectories, on-farm trials, participatory ex-ante trade-off analysis) to design innovative farming systems to confront these challenges. We explored farm trajectories during two decades (1994 to 2010) in the Koutiala district in southern Mali, an area experiencing the land constraints that exert pressure in many other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. We classified farms into four types differing in land and labour productivity and food self-sufficiency status. During the past two decades, 17% of the farms stepped up to a farm type with greater productivity, while 70% of the farms remained in the same type, and only 13% of the farms experienced deteriorating farming conditions. Crop yields did not change significantly over time for any farm type and labour productivity decreased. Together with 132 farmers in the Koutiala district, we tested a range of options for sustainable intensification, including intensification of cereal (maize and sorghum) and legume (groundnut, soyabean and cowpea) sole crops and cereal-legume intercropping over three years and cropping seasons (2012-2014) through on-farm trials. Experiments were located across three soil types that farmers identified – namely black, sandy and gravelly soils. Enhanced agronomic performance was achieved when targeting legumes to a given soil type and/or place in the rotation: the biomass production of the cowpea fodder variety was doubled on black soils compared with gravelly soils and the additive maize/cowpea intercropping option after cotton or maize resulted in no maize grain penalty, and 1.38 t ha−1 more cowpea fodder production compared with sole maize. Farm systems were re-designed together with the farmers involved in the trials. A cyclical learning model combining the on-farm testing and participatory ex-ante analysis was used during four years (2012-2015). In the first cycle of 2012-2014, farmers were disappointed by the results of the ex-ante trade-off analysis, i.e marginal improvement in gross margin when replacing sorghum with soybean and food self-sufficiency trade-offs when intercropping maize with cowpea. In a second cycle in 2014-2015 the farm systems were re-designed using the niche-specific (soil type/previous crop combinations) information on yield and gross margin, which solved the concerns voiced by farmers during the first cycle. Farmers highlighted the saliency of the niches and the re-designed farm systems that increased farm gross margin by 9 to 29% (depending on farm type and options considered) without compromising food self-sufficiency. The involvement of farmers in the co-learning cycles allowed establishment of legitimate, credible and salient farm reconfiguration guidelines that could be scaled-out to other communities within the “old cotton basin”. Five medium-term contrasting socio-economic scenarios were built towards the year 2027, including hypothetical trends in policy interventions and change towards agricultural intensification. A simulation framework was built to account for household demographic dynamics and crop/livestock production variability. In the current situation, 45% of the 99 households of the study village were food self-sufficient and above the 1.25 US$ day-1 poverty line. Without change in farmer practices and additional policy intervention, only 16% of the farms would be both food self-sufficient and above the poverty line in 2027. In the case of diversification with legumes combined with intensification of livestock production and support to the milk sector, 27% of farms would be food self-sufficient and above the poverty line. Additional broader policy interventions to favour out-migration would be needed to lift 69% of the farms out of poverty. Other additional subsidies to favour yield gap narrowing of the main crops would lift 92% of the farm population out of poverty. Whilst sustainable intensification of farming clearly has a key role to play in ensuring food self-sufficiency, and is of great interest to local farmers, in the face of increasing population pressure other approaches are required to address rural poverty. These require strategic and multi-sectoral approaches that address employment within and beyond agriculture, in both rural and urban areas.

    Resilience of Amazonian landscapes to agricultural intensification
    Jakovac, C.C. - \ 2015
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Frans Bongers; Thomas Kuijper, co-promotor(en): Marielos Pena Claros; R.C.G. Mesquita. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462574434 - 172
    landschap - landschapsecologie - veerkracht van de natuur - intensivering - landbouw - landgebruik - bosecologie - amazonia - landscape - landscape ecology - resilience of nature - intensification - agriculture - land use - forest ecology - amazonia

    ISBN: 978-94-6257-443-4

    Author: Catarina C. Jakovac

    Title: Resilience of Amazonian landscapes to agricultural intensification

    Swidden cultivation is the traditional agricultural system in riverine Amazonia, which supports local livelihoods and transforms landscapes. In the last decades, riverine Amazonia has been undergoing important transformations related to population migration and market integration. In this study I investigated whether these socio-economic transformations could be inducing agricultural intensification and what are the consequences of such intensification for the resilience of the swidden cultivation systems in the region of the middle-Amazonas river, Brazil. This region is one of the largest producers of cassava flour (farinha in Portuguese) in the Brazilian Amazon, which is the local staple food. By combining information from field surveys, farmers interviews and remote sensing time-series, I investigated how agricultural intensification is taking place at the landscape level, and what are the consequences for secondary forests (fallows) regrowth and swiddens productivity.

    The results of this study show that swidden cultivation has been intensified in the last three decades, evidenced by an increase in the frequency of swidden-fallow cycles and a decrease in the length of the fallow period, from 9 to 5 years on average. I also found that agricultural intensification was associated to land accessibility and market orientation. Across the region, swiddens are dominated by a single cassava variety that is preferred by the market, reducing the possibilities for adaptation to pests outbreaks and environmental variations. At the field level, repeated swidden-fallow cycles under a short-fallow-period regime (of 5 yrs) leads to a decrease in the recovery capacity of secondary forests (reduced regrowth rate, lower species alpha- and beta-diversity, and changed species composition). Intensification also leads to a reduction in the labour productivity of swiddens (reduced cassava yield and higher weeding labour demand), and consequently in household income.

    I found that management-environment feedbacks play a key role in the decrease of swiddens and fallows productivity. The sprouting and persistent species favoured by cutting, burning and weeding practices are slow growing and form secondary forests with limited potential to fertilize the next cropping field and to suppress weeds. This results in a higher demand for weeding, which in itself will further favour strong-sprouting species. Such feedbacks reinforce the adverse effects of intensification on the environment and for livelihoods. Although farmers recognize thresholds for managing resilience, such as the formation of tired lands (terras cansadas in Portuguese), the combination of a low-nutrient-requiring crop, increasing farinha prices and shortage of accessible land, is encouraging farmers to keep on cultivating in already exhausted lands, and is pushing the system over such threshold.

    To enhance the resilience of swidden cultivation systems in the context of riverine Amazonia, management-environment feedbacks should be broken and market opportunities should be broadened beyond cassava, to include forest products that can be harvested within the swidden-fallow landscape, such as nuts, fruits and timber from fast-growing species. Thus, the proper management of secondary succession is key for assuring resilience to swidden-fallow landscapes and for promoting the integration of production and nature conservation in human modified landscapes.

    Anthropogenic soils in central Amazonia: farmers’ practices, agrobiodiversity and land-use patterns
    Braga Junqueira, A. - \ 2015
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Paul Struik, co-promotor(en): Tjeerd-Jan Stomph; Conny Almekinders; C.R. Clement. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462574472 - 163
    antropogene horizonten - bodem - agro-ecologie - biodiversiteit - landgebruik - zwerflandbouw - intensivering - diversificatie - amazonia - anthropogenic horizons - soil - agroecology - biodiversity - land use - shifting cultivation - intensification - diversification - amazonia

    Keywords: Terra Preta; Amazonian Dark Earths; Shifting cultivation; Homegardens; Intensification; Diversification; Smallholder farming.

    André Braga Junqueira (2015). Anthropogenic soils in central Amazonia: farmers’ practices, agrobiodiversity and land-use patterns. PhD thesis, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, with summary in English, 163 pp.

    Rural Amazonia is increasingly experiencing environmental and socio-economic changes that directly affect smallholder farmers, with potential negative effects for environmental quality, agrobiodiversity and livelihoods. In this dynamic context, there is an urgent need to support pathways for smallholder agriculture that guarantee farmers’ economic and food security while maintaining and enhancing ecosystem functions. Amazonian Dark Earths (ADE, or Terra Preta) are anthropogenic soils created by pre-Columbian populations. Due to their high carbon content and enhanced fertility, ADE have been considered models for sustainable agriculture, based on the idea that transforming soils by mimicking some of the properties of ADE would benefit farmers, sequester carbon and reduce pressure on forests. Investigating the current use of ADE and surrounding soils by smallholder farmers allows us to evaluate the relevance of anthropogenic soils and of soil heterogeneity for smallholder farming in Amazonia, and to identify opportunities and constraints associated with the cultivation of fertile soils. The main objective of this thesis is to understand how ADE are understood and cultivated by smallholder farmers in Central Amazonia, and how these soils influence cultivation systems, agrobiodiversity and land-use patterns.

    Ethnographic data indicated that farmers’ understanding of ADE – and of soils in general – is based on their historical and shared knowledge about soil variation across the landscape, on physical attributes of the soil, and mainly on the recognition of different soil-vegetation interactions. A widespread perception about ADE is that these soils are suitable for the cultivation of ‘almost everything’ and always produce decent yields, but they require much more weeding during cultivation. Farmers’ decision-making in shifting cultivation is grounded in this differential understanding of soil-vegetation relationships, and weighed against the labor demands. Soil and vegetation inventories in swiddens used for shifting cultivation showed that the soil fertility gradient between surrounding soils and ADE was associated with more intensive cultivation (shorter fallow periods, shorter and more frequent cultivation cycles, higher labor requirements) and with changes in the crop assemblages, but with similar or larger numbers of species cultivated. In homegardens, vegetation structure and crop diversity were mainly influenced by natural variation in soil texture (homegardens on sandier soils being denser and more diverse), while the soil fertility gradient between ADE and adjacent soils influenced mainly the crop assemblages. At the farm level, the relationship between farmers’ use of ADE and the need to open areas for shifting cultivation was strongly dependent on the labor availability of the household. Instead of driving specific trends in land use, fertile soils are incorporated into local livelihoods as part of an extensive repertoire of resource management activities; most often, farmers with enough available labor manage multiple plots, combining more intensive cultivation on ADE with typical long-fallow shifting cultivation on poorer soils. Farmers’ access to increased soil fertility, therefore, does not necessarily lead to reduced pressure on forests.

    This thesis has shown that cultivation systems on ADE are associated with specific knowledge, practices and agrobiodiversity, providing increased opportunities for farmers to diversify their cultivation systems and grow a greater diversity of crops. Despite these advantages, ADE can also be associated with conventional intensification practices that can lead to environmental degradation and pose threats to local livelihoods. It cannot be assumed, therefore, that the use of more fertile soils will be associated with sustainable cultivation, neither that it will reduce pressure on forests. Initiatives aiming to promote sustainable pathways for agriculture in Amazonia should promote (and make use of) the heterogeneity of soils and of cultivation strategies, and should aim at increasing and not narrowing farmers’ opportunities for resource use and management.

    The role of agri-environment schemes in conservation and environmental management
    Batary, P. ; Dicks, L.V. ; Kleijn, D. ; Sutherland, W.J. - \ 2015
    Conservation Biology 29 (2015)4. - ISSN 0888-8892 - p. 1006 - 1016.
    land-use intensity - ecosystem services - agricultural landscapes - farmland birds - biodiversity - metaanalysis - europe - benefits - intensification - pollinators
    Over half of the European landscape is under agricultural management and has been for millennia. Many species and ecosystems of conservation concern in Europe depend on agricultural management and are showing ongoing declines. Agri-environment schemes (AES) are designed partly to address this. They are a major source of nature conservation funding within the European Union (EU) and the highest conservation expenditure in Europe. We reviewed the structure of current AES across Europe. Since a 2003 review questioned the overall effectiveness of AES for biodiversity, there has been a plethora of case studies and meta-analyses examining their effectiveness. Most syntheses demonstrate general increases in farmland biodiversity in response to AES, with the size of the effect depending on the structure and management of the surrounding landscape. This is important in the light of successive EU enlargement and ongoing reforms of AES. We examined the change in effect size over time by merging the data sets of 3 recent meta-analyses and found that schemes implemented after revision of the EU's agri-environmental programs in 2007 were not more effective than schemes implemented before revision. Furthermore, schemes aimed at areas out of production (such as field margins and hedgerows) are more effective at enhancing species richness than those aimed at productive areas (such as arable crops or grasslands). Outstanding research questions include whether AES enhance ecosystem services, whether they are more effective in agriculturally marginal areas than in intensively farmed areas, whether they are more or less cost-effective for farmland biodiversity than protected areas, and how much their effectiveness is influenced by farmer training and advice? The general lesson from the European experience is that AES can be effective for conserving wildlife on farmland, but they are expensive and need to be carefully designed and targeted.
    Potential of extensification of European agriculture for a more sustainable food system; the case for nitrogen and livestock
    Grinsven, J.J.M. van; Erisman, J.W. ; Vries, W. de; Westhoek, H. - \ 2015
    Environmental Research Letters 10 (2015)2. - ISSN 1748-9326 - 10 p.
    dairy farms - management - intensification - welfare - trends - impact - costs - meat - pig
    Most global strategies for future food security focus on sustainable intensification of production of food and involve increased use of nitrogen fertilizer and manure. The external costs of current high nitrogen (N) losses from agriculture in the European Union, are 0.3–1.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2008. We explore the potential of sustainable extensification for agriculture in the EU and The Netherlands by analysing cases and scenario studies focusing on reducing N inputs and livestock densities. Benefits of extensification are higher local biodiversity and less environmental pollution and therefore less external costs for society. Extensification also has risks such as a reduction of yields and therewith a decrease of the GDP and farm income and a smaller contribution to the global food production, and potentially an i0ncrease of global demand for land. We demonstrate favourable examples of extensification. Reducing the N fertilization rate for winter wheat in Northwest Europe to 25–30% below current N recommendations accounts for the external N cost, but requires action to compensate for a reduction in crop yield by 10–20%. Dutch dairy and pig farmers changing to less intensive production maintain or even improve farm income by price premiums on their products, and/or by savings on external inputs. A scenario reducing the Dutch pig and poultry sector by 50%, the dairy sector by 20% and synthetic N fertilizer use by 40% lowers annual N pollution costs by 0.2–2.2 billion euro (40%). This benefit compensates for the loss of GDP in the primary sector but not in the supply and processing chain. A 2030 scenario for the EU27 reducing consumption and production of animal products by 50% (demitarean diet) reduces N pollution by 10% and benefits human health. This diet allows the EU27 to become a food exporter, while reducing land demand outside Europe in 2030 by more than 100 million hectares (2%), which more than compensates increased land demand when changing to organic farming. We conclude that in Europe extensification of agriculture is sustainable when combined with adjusted diets and externalization of environmental costs to food prices.
    Mitigation of agricultural emissions in the tropics: comparing forest land-sparing options at the national level
    Carter, S.L. ; Herold, M. ; Rufino, M.C. ; Neumann, K. ; Kooistra, L. ; Verchot, L. - \ 2015
    Biogeosciences 12 (2015). - ISSN 1726-4170 - p. 4809 - 4825.
    greenhouse-gas mitigation - carbon stocks - deforestation - intensification - food - 21st-century - cropland - policies - regions - maps
    Emissions from agriculture-driven deforestation are of global concern, but forest land-sparing interventions such as agricultural intensification and utilization of available non-forest land offer opportunities for mitigation. In many tropical countries, where agriculture is the major driver of deforestation, interventions in the agriculture sector could reduce deforestation emissions as well as reduce emissions in the agriculture sector. Our study uses a novel approach to quantify agriculture-driven deforestation and associated emissions in the tropics between 2000 and 2010. Emissions from agriculture-driven deforestation in the tropics (97 countries) are 4.3 GtCO2e yr-1. We investigate the national potential to mitigate these emissions through forest land-sparing interventions, which can potentially be implemented under REDD+. We consider intensification and utilization of available non-forested land as forest land-sparing opportunities since they avoid the expansion of agriculture into forested land. In addition, we assess the potential to reduce agricultural emissions on existing agriculture land. The use of a systematic framework demonstrates the selection of mitigation interventions by considering sequentially the level of emissions, mitigation potential of various interventions, enabling environment and associated risks to livelihoods at the national level. Our results show that considering only countries with high emissions from agriculture-driven deforestation, with potential for forest-sparing interventions and a good enabling environment (e.g. effective governance or engagement in REDD+), there is a potential to mitigate 1.3 GtCO2e yr-1 (20 countries of 78 with sufficient data). For countries where we identify agricultural emissions as a priority for mitigation, up to 1 GtCO2e yr-1 could be reduced from the agriculture sector including livestock. Risks to livelihoods from implementing interventions based on national level data call for detailed investigation at the local level to inform decisions on mitigation interventions. Three case studies demonstrate the use of the analytical framework. The inherent link between the agriculture and forestry sectors due to competition for land suggests that these sectors cannot be considered independently. Our findings highlight the need to include the forest and the agricultural sectors in the decision-making process to mitigate deforestation.
    Economic trade-offs of biomass use in crop-livestock systems: Exploring more sustainable options in semi-arid Zimbabwe
    Homann Kee, S. ; Valbuena Vargas, D.F. ; Masikati, P. ; Descheemaeker, K.K.E. ; Nyamangara, J. ; Claessens, L.F.G. ; Erenstein, O. ; Rooyen, A.F. van; Nkomboni, D. - \ 2015
    Agricultural Systems 134 (2015). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 48 - 60.
    conservation agriculture - smallholder farmers - intensification - productivity - challenges - strategies - countries - benefits - tropics - africa
    In complex mixed crop-livestock systems with limited resources and biomass scarcity, crop residues play an important but increasingly contested role. This paper focuses on farming systems in the semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe, where biomass production is limited and farmers integrate crop and livestock activities. Conservation Agriculture (CA) is promoted to intensify crop production, emphasizing the retention of surface mulch with crop residues (CR). This paper quantifies the associated potential economic tradeoffs and profitability of using residues for soil amendment or as livestock feed, and explores alternative biomass production options. We draw on household surveys, stakeholder feedback, crop, livestock and economic modeling tools. We use the Trade-Off Analysis Model for Multi Dimensional Impact Assessment (TOA-MD) to compare different CR use scenarios at community level and for different farm types: particularly the current base system (cattle grazing of maize residues) and sustainable intensification alternatives based on a CA option (mulching using maize residues ± inorganic fertilizer) and a maize– mucuna (Mucuna pruriens) rotation. Our results indicate that a maize–mucuna rotation can reduce trade-offs between CR uses for feed and mulch, providing locally available organic soil enhancement, supplementary feed and a potential source of income. Conservation Agriculture without fertilizer application and at non-subsidized fertilizer prices is not financially viable; whereas with subsidized fertilizer it can benefit half the farm population. The poverty effects of all considered alternative biomass options are however limited; they do not raise income sufficiently to lift farmers out of poverty. Further research is needed to establish the competitiveness of alternative biomass enhancing technologies and the socio-economic processes that can facilitate sustainable intensification of mixed crop-livestock systems, particularly in semi-arid environments.
    Strategies for improving water use efficiency in livestock feed production in rain-fed systems
    Kebebe, E.G. ; Oosting, S.J. ; Haileslassie, A. ; Duncan, A.J. ; Boer, I.J.M. de - \ 2015
    Animal 9 (2015)05. - ISSN 1751-7311 - p. 908 - 916.
    sub-saharan africa - life-cycle assessment - agriculture - management - ethiopia - adoption - intensification - farmers - trials - straw
    Livestock production is a major consumer of fresh water, and the influence of livestock production on global fresh water resources is increasing because of the growing demand for livestock products. Increasing water use efficiency of livestock production, therefore, can contribute to the overall water use efficiency of agriculture. Previous studies have reported significant variation in livestock water productivity (LWP) within and among farming systems. Underlying causes of this variation in LWP require further investigation. The objective of this paper was to identify the factors that explain the variation in LWP within and among farming systems in Ethiopia. We quantified LWP for various farms in mixed-crop livestock systems and explored the effect of household demographic characteristics and farm assets on LWP using ANOVA and multilevel mixed-effect linear regression. We focused on water used to cultivate feeds on privately owned agricultural lands. There was a difference in LWP among farming systems and wealth categories. Better-off households followed by medium households had the highest LWP, whereas poor households had the lowest LWP. The variation in LWP among wealth categories could be explained by the differences in the ownership of livestock and availability of family labor. Regression results showed that the age of the household head, the size of the livestock holding and availability of family labor affected LWP positively. The results suggest that water use efficiency could be improved by alleviating resource constraints such as access to farm labor and livestock assets, oxen in particular.
    Yield gap analysis and resource footprints of Irish potato production systems in Zimbabwe
    Svubure, O. ; Struik, P.C. ; Haverkort, A.J. ; Steyn, J.M. - \ 2015
    Field Crops Research 178 (2015). - ISSN 0378-4290 - p. 77 - 90.
    agriculture - intensification - argentina - ecology - climate - africa - growth - land
    Irish potato is the third most important carbohydrate food crop in Zimbabwe after maize and wheat. In 2012, the Government of Zimbabwe declared it a strategic national food security crop. In this study, we examine the country's potential for increasing Irish potato yield and help ease the nation's food security challenges. The magnitude of food production increase on already existing croplands depends on the difference between the current actual yields and the potential yield of the crop in the given agro-ecological environment, also called the yield gap. We used three already well-understood types of yield gap: (1) the gap between actual farmer yields, Ya, and the maximum (potential) yield, Yp, achieved when a crop is grown under conditions of non-limiting water and nutrient supply with biotic stress effectively controlled; (2) the gap between Ya and the water-limited yield, Yw, which is the maximum yield attainable under rainfed systems; and (3) the gap between Ya, and the highest yield, Yh, achieved by the best farmers in an agro-ecological area. A grower survey was conducted on the different potato production systems in the country in order to establish the actual yields and input application rates used in potato production. The actual potato yields were used to calculate efficiencies of natural and synthetic resources use. Potential and water-limited yields, and planting times of potato were established for the different agro-ecological regions using the LINTUL-POTATO model, a model based on interception and utilisation of incoming solar radiation. The mean actual yield observed ranged from 8 to 35% of the potential yield, translating to a yield gap of 65 to 92%, hence there is a huge potential to increase production. Simulated potential water use efficiency based on evapotranspiration range was 19–27 g potato/l against the actual water use efficiency of 2–6 g potato/l based on irrigation and rainfall. The current high fertiliser application rates and low actual yields we report, suggest inefficient fertiliser use in potato production in Zimbabwe. The average actual fungicide and insecticide use efficiencies were 0.7 and 13 kg potato/g active ingredient, respectively, across all production systems. All sampled growers lacked knowledge on integrated pest management, a concept which could possibly improve the biocide use efficiency through lowering biocide application rates while maintaining or even improving yields. Our analysis suggests that there is opportunity to improve water, nutrients and biocides resource use efficiencies and increase potato actual yields in Zimbabwe.
    Harnessing the biodiversity value of Central and Eastern European farmland
    Sutcliffe, L.M.E. ; Batary, P. ; Kormann, U. ; Baldi, A. ; Dicks, L.V. ; Herzon, I. ; Kleijn, D. ; Tscharntke, T. - \ 2015
    Diversity and Distributions 21 (2015)6. - ISSN 1366-9516 - p. 722 - 730.
    agri-environmental measures - buntings miliaria-calandra - common agricultural policy - land-use intensity - species richness - bird populations - member states - eu accession - intensification - conservation
    A large proportion of European biodiversity today depends on habitat provided by low-intensity farming practices, yet this resource is declining as European agriculture intensifies. Within the European Union, particularly the central and eastern new member states have retained relatively large areas of species-rich farmland, but despite increased investment in nature conservation here in recent years, farmland biodiversity trends appear to be worsening. Although the high biodiversity value of Central and Eastern European farmland has long been reported, the amount of research in the international literature focused on farmland biodiversity in this region remains comparatively tiny, and measures within the EU Common Agricultural Policy are relatively poorly adapted to support it. In this opinion study, we argue that, 10 years after the accession of the first eastern EU new member states, the continued under-representation of the low-intensity farmland in Central and Eastern Europe in the international literature and EU policy is impeding the development of sound, evidence-based conservation interventions. The biodiversity benefits for Europe of existing low-intensity farmland, particularly in the central and eastern states, should be harnessed before they are lost. Instead of waiting for species-rich farmland to further decline, targeted research and monitoring to create locally appropriate conservation strategies for these habitats is needed now.
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