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.
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
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.
Political ecology in the oil palm-based cropping system on the Adja plateau in Benin: connecting soil fertility and land tenure
Yemadje, H.R.M. - \ 2013
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Thomas Kuijper; R. Mongbo; D.K. Kossou, co-promotor(en): Todd Crane. - Wageningen : Wageningen UR - ISBN 9789461737557 - 111
teeltsystemen - oliepalmen - ecologie - politiek - bodemvruchtbaarheid - pachtstelsel - innovaties - landhervorming - sociale verandering - intensivering - agroforestry - benin - cropping systems - oil palms - ecology - politics - soil fertility - tenure systems - innovations - land reform - social change - intensification - agroforestry - benin
Keywords: Innovation system, Soil fertility management, Land reform, Participatory technology development, Social change, Agroforestry, Land access rights, Fallow, Agricultural intensification, Africa
On the Adja plateau (West Benin), multiple actors are involved in an intercropping system with oil palm and food crops. This system is known as the oil palm-based cropping system (OPBCS). It contains two stages: a stage of small oil palms underneath which food crops are grown and a fallow stage with mature oil palm. Landowners grow oil palm mainly for the artisanal production of palm wine and sodabi, rather than for palm oil, for which the region is unsuitable for climatological reasons. The OPBCS has to be analysed not only from a technical and ecological perspective, but also from an institutional one. In the OPBCS there are competing claims between landowners and tenants for land use. Tenants access land under specific customary rules, grow food crops beneath oil palm and extend the cropping period by severely pruning palms because their right to grow food crops terminates when the palms reach a height of 2 m. Landowners claim that extended cropping reduces soil fertility and that long-duration oil palm fallows are necessary for soil fertility regeneration. Tenants state that long-duration fallow maintains land scarcity. In an attempt to remedy the competing claims, a land titling programme was implemented in some villages on the Adja plateau.
I analysed the system with a political ecology lens. I demonstrated the implications of the multiple institutions for land access and ownership, and therefore for the competing claims. Land titling initially created land insecurity for tenants, as they were thrown off the land by owners who wanted to demonstrate ownership. Subsequently, new rules related to land access by tenants were introduced. Both ownership and access by tenants relied on a different mix of formal and informal practices, as evidenced by formal contracts, petits papiers and a new paper contract. The new paper contract provides tenants the rights to rent the land for up to 25 years. The titling programme also enhanced on-going processes of intensification and commercialisation, as evidenced by increased use of mineral fertiliser and the regression of the OPBCS. The long-duration fallow periods did not improve biological and chemical soil fertility. Long-duration fallows are rather used as an expression of control over land. Mineral fertiliser and organic amendments (household waste) explain lack of effects of fallowing. Application of household waste and mineral fertiliser did not change soil organic matter content. Organic amendments increased maize yields more than mineral fertiliser. Household waste did not improve agronomic use efficiency of mineral fertiliser.
I suggest that formal and customary land tenure institutions can be blended to generate a hybrid system. Such a hybrid system might contribute to sustainable soil fertility management.
Exploration of agro-ecological options for improving maize-based farming systems in Costa Chica, Guerrero, Mexico
Flores Sanchez, D. - \ 2013
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Martin Kropff, co-promotor(en): Walter Rossing; Egbert Lantinga. - S.l. : s.n. - ISBN 9789461736758 - 205
bedrijfssystemen - maïs - zea mays - agro-ecologie - agro-ecosystemen - agronomie - intensivering - tussenteelt - mexico - farming systems - maize - zea mays - agroecology - agroecosystems - agronomy - intensification - intercropping - mexico
Keywords: farm diagnosis, farming systems, soil degradation, intercropping, maize, roselle, legumes, nutrient management, vermicompost, crop residues, decomposition, explorations.
In the Costa Chica, a region of Southwest Mexico, farming systems are organized in smallholder units. The dominant cropping systems are based on maize (Zea mays L.), either as monocrop or intercropped with roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.). Continuous cropping, and unbalanced fertilizer management systems with an inadequate replenishment of organic matter stocks have caused depletion of soil fertility and low crop yields. This thesis aimed to evaluate alternative cropping systems in terms of their contribution to on-farm productivity and to regeneration of the soil resource base. A set of approaches including farm surveys, on-farm experiments and model-based calculations was applied to characterize farming systems, identify main livelihood constraints and evaluate alternative cropping and farming systems. Main constraints identified were low yields of the major crops maize and roselle, low levels of nitrogen, potassium and soil organic matter, low resource use efficiencies, high production costs, limited marketing opportunities and low prices of products. To address prevailing production constraints, farmer-managed experiments were established in two communities within the region. In on-farm experiments the legumes Canavalia (Canavalia brasiliensis Mart. Ex Benth) and Mucuna (Mucuna pruriens L.var. utilis (Wall ex Wight) Burk) were intercropped in (added to) maize monocrops and maize-roselle mixtures. Intercropping did not decrease maize and roselle yields, and resulted in major reductions of the weed biomass, as well as an increased N uptake by both the food crops and the cropping system as a whole. In nutrient management trials different sources of macro-nutrients were evaluated in maize monocrops and maize-roselle intercrops. The results showed that improvements at field scale are feasible in the short term. Partial replacement of mineral NPK by organic NPK in the form of vermicompost, leading to 10-20% lower total N and K inputs, did not result in lower maize yields or a reduced uptake of N and K. This suggests that the N and K from the vermicompost were utilized better by the maize crop than from the inorganic fertilizers due to lower leaching losses. An experiment on decomposition of and N release from aboveground biomass residues, crop root residues and vermicompost demonstrated that, although the pattern of decomposition varied depending on the type of organic material, most of the N was released within the cropping season. Particularly for vermicompost, only one third of its initial dry mass was decomposed, thus leaving significant amounts of residues for soil organic matter build-up. Model-based explorations were developed to assess the consequences of the experimental results at the field level for whole-farm performance. Results for eight case study farms demonstrated that changes in crop nutrition and animal husbandry can increase farm family income and improve organic matter balances. However, strategies to achieve these goals most effectively were distinct. To maximize family income required fertilizer-based cropping strategies, while rebuilding soil organic matter required investment in retaining, obtaining and applying sources of organic matter. Farms responded differently to the explored options, highlighting the need for crop nutrition strategies that are adjusted to the soil fertility status of individual fields to be most efficient. The explorations also showed that for six out of the eight farms the minimum family income standard could not be attained. The results imply that the current emphasis in policies to support smallholders by fertilizer subsidies requires adjustment to include promotion of technology development aimed at regeneration of the degraded resource base and to offer off-farm economic options.
Nuances and nuisances : Crop production intensification options for smallholder farming systems of southern Africa
Rusinamhodzi, L. - \ 2013
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Ken Giller, co-promotor(en): M. Corbeels. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789461735737 - 222
bedrijfssystemen - intensivering - kleine landbouwbedrijven - boeren - gewasproductie - zuidelijk afrika - farming systems - intensification - small farms - farmers - crop production - southern africa
Key words: crop production, intensification, extensification, farming systems, tradeoff analysis, maize, legume, manure, fertiliser, southern Africa
Soil fertility decline and erratic rainfall are major constraints to crop productivity on smallholder farms in southern Africa. Crop production intensification along with efficient use of chemical fertiliser is required to produce more food per unit area of land, while rebuilding soil fertility. The objective of this thesis was to identify appropriate crop production intensification options that are suitable to the socio-economic and biophysical conditions of selected smallholder maize-based farming systems in southern Africa. Three sites that formed a gradient of intensity of crop and livestock production were selected for the study. Murehwa in Zimbabwe is characterised by the largest intensity followed by Ruaca and lastly Vunduzi both in central Mozambique. In all three sites, maize is a key staple and cash crop.A literature review, field methods based on participatory research, and modelling tools were combined in analysing potential crop production options across an agricultural intensification gradient. A meta-analysis on maize grain yieldunder rain-fed conditions revealed thatconservation agriculture required legume rotations and high nitrogen input use especially in the early years.Reduced tillage without mulch cover leads to lower yields than with conventional agriculture in low rainfall environments. Mulch cover in high rainfall areas leads to smaller yields than conventional tillage due to waterlogging, and improved yields under CA are likely on well drained soils. Crop productivity underconservation agriculture depends on the ability of farmers to achieve correct fertiliser application, timely weeding, and the availability of crop residues for mulching and systematic crop rotations which are currently lacking in southern Africa. Anadditive design of within-row intercropping was compared to a substitutive design with distinct alternating rows of maize and legume (local practice) under no-tillin the Ruaca and Vunduzi communities of central Mozambique. Intercropping increased productivity compared to the corresponding sole crops with land equivalent ratios (LER) of between 1.0 and 2.4. Maize yield loss was only 6-8% in within-row intercropping but 25-50% in the distinct-row option. Relay planting of maize and cowpea intercropping ensured cowpea yield when maize failed thus reduced the negative effects of dry spells. The residual benefits of maize-pigeonpea intercropping were large (5.6 t ha-1) whereas continuous maize (0.7 t ha-1) was severely infested by striga(Striga asiatica). The accumulation of biomass which provided mulch combined with no tillageincreased rainfall infiltration. Intensification through legume intercropping is a feasible option to increase crop productivity and farm income while reducing the risk of crop failureespecially where land limitation. Cattle manure in combination with chemical fertiliser that included N, P, Ca, Zn, Mn were evaluated for their potential to recover degraded soils and to support sustainable high crop productivity in Murehwa, Zimbabwe over nine years. The experiment was established on sandy and clay soils in two field types. Homefields were close to the homestead and relatively more fertile than the outfields due to previous preferential allocation of nutrients. Maize grain yields in sandy soils did not respond to the sole application of fertiliser N (remained less than 1 t ha-1); manure application had immediate and incremental benefits on crop yields in the sandy soils. A combination of 25 t ha-1 manure and 100 kg N gave the largest treatment yield of 9.3 t ha-1 on the homefield clay soils, 6.1 t ha-1 on clay outfield, 7.6 t ha-1 on sandy homefield and 3.4 t ha-1 in the eighth season. Despite the large manure applications of up to 25 t ha-1, crop productivity and soil organic carbon build-up in the outfield sandy soils was small highlighting the difficulty to recover the fertility of degraded soils. Manure can be used more efficiently if targeted to fields closest to homesteads but this exacerbates land degradation in the outfields and increases soil fertility gradients. The NUANCES-FARMSIM model for simulating crop and animal productivity in mixed crop-livestock farming systems was used to perform trade-off analysis with respect to crop residue management, animal and crop productivity in Murehwa, Zimbabwe. Retaining all maize residues in the field led to severe losses in animal productivity but significant gains in crop productivity in the long-term. Yield increased 4 to 5.6 t farm-1 for RG1, and from 2.8 to 3.5 t farm-1 for RG2. Body weight loss was on average 67 kg per animal per year for RG1 and 93 kg per animal per year for RG2. Retention of all crop residues reduced farm income by US37 and US38 per year for RG1 and RG2 respectively.Farmers who own cattle have no scope of retaining crop residues in the field as it results in significant loss of animal productivity. Non-livestock farmers (60% of the farmers) do not face trade-offs in crop residue allocation but have poor productivity compared to livestock owners and have a greater scope of retaining their crop residues if they invest in more labour to keep their residues during the dry season. This study has revealed that crop production intensification options developed without considering the biophysical conditions as well as socio-economic circumstances of farmers are nuisances. External ideas should be used to stimulate local innovations to push the envelope of crop production without creating new constraints on resource use.
Intensification of animal production and its relation to animal welfare, food security and 'climate smart agriculture
Leenstra, F.R. - \ 2013
Lelystad : Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Report / Wageningen UR Livestock Research 702) - 20
dierlijke productie - dierenwelzijn - huisvesting, dieren - intensivering - klimaatverandering - voedselzekerheid - animal production - animal welfare - animal housing - intensification - climatic change - food security
In this note livestock production systems, developments in intensification and their consequences for animal welfare issues are categorized and discussed.
Linking land-use intensification, plant communities, and ecosystem processes in lowland Bolivia
Carreno Rocabado, I.G. - \ 2013
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Frans Bongers, co-promotor(en): Lourens Poorter; Marielos Pena Claros. - [S.l.] : s.n. - ISBN 9789461735331 - 163
landgebruik - intensivering - plantengemeenschappen - ecosystemen - laaglandgebieden - biodiversiteit - tropen - soortendiversiteit - strooisel - decompositie - ecologie - bolivia - land use - intensification - plant communities - ecosystems - lowland areas - biodiversity - tropics - species diversity - litter (plant) - decomposition - ecology - bolivia
Land-use intensification (LUI) is one of the main global drivers of biodiversity loss with negative impact on ecosystem processes and the services that societies derive from the ecosystems. The effect of LUI on ecosystem processes can be direct through changes in environmental conditions and indirect through changes in plant community. In this dissertation I explored the mechanisms through which land-use intensification affects plant community assembly and ecosystem processes in the Bolivian lowland tropics. Specifically I evaluated: 1) how plant communities respond to LUI via plant response traits, 2) the effects of plant communities on decomposition via their effect traits, and 3) the relative importance of direct and indirect pathways in explaining LUI effects on ecosystem processes.
I used two gradients of LUI, a long gradient, including five common and contrasting land use types (mature forest, logged forest, secondary forest, agricultural land, and pastureland), and a short gradient of disturbance intensity represented by four experimental treatments in managed forest (unlogged forest, and forest subject to one of three levels of logging intensity and application of silvicultural treatments). Plant community response and effect were evaluated based on species diversity and functional properties. I measured for the most dominant species 12 functional traits and 14 litter traits.
Both gradients of LUI affected functional properties of the plant communities. An increase in LUI shifted plant communities from species characterized by slow growth and slow returns on resource investment (conservative species), toward species characterized by fast growth and fast returns on resources investment (acquisitive species). However, communities with an intermediate position along the LUI gradient (i.e., secondary forests) showed dominance of conservative species mainly due to land use management (abundance of palm species due to frequent burning). Along the short gradient of LUI demographic processes mediated the changes plant communities. With and increase in disturbance caused by logging and silvicultural treatments, there was an increased recruitment of individuals with more acquisitive trait values. Moreover, the response of functional diversity differed between both LUI gradients. Whereas functional diversity decreased along the long LUI gradient, it did not change along the short LUI gradient. Communities with an intermediate position along the long LUI gradient showed higher functional diversity than communities at the extremes of the gradient. Whereas both environmental and management filters drove changes in plant communities along a long LUI gradient, changes along a short LUI gradient were mainly driven by environmental filters.
LUI affected litter decomposition through changes in environmental conditions and through changes in plant communities. With an increase in LUI decompositionpotential (measured as mass loss of standard litter incubated in all land use types) decreased. Since soil properties only weakly affected decomposition, other factors were probably the main drivers of the direct effects of LUI on decomposition potential. With increasing LUI the litter decomposability increased due to changes in litter quality produced by plant communities; litter from mature- and logged forest had low decomposability, litter from secondary forest had an intermediate decomposability, and litter from agricultural land and pastureland had high decomposability. Functional traits, such as leaf N concentration, specific leaf area and leaf chlorophyll content, were good and positive predictors of decomposition rate. Although experimentally litter quality explained more variation in decomposition rate across the long LUI gradient (48%) than environmental site characteristics (17%), the actual decomposition rate (in-situ decomposition of litter community into its own land use type) was site-dependent, and determined by both drivers that partlycompensated each other. Thus, litter with high decomposability (litter from pastureland) incubated in the land use type with low decomposition potential (pastureland plot) had generally a similar decomposition rate as litter with low decomposability (litter from mature forest) incubated in the land use type with high decomposition potential (mature forest plot).
Tropical ecosystems are not only very diverse in species, they are also diverse in their responses to human disturbance. I concluded that LUI has important effects on plant community properties and ecosystem processes. These effects, however, contrast with some predictions of current ecological theory. High intensification of land use does not necessarily lead to low plant functional diversity, and less favourable environmental conditions for decomposition do not necessarily lead to low decomposition rates. Instead, the multiple factors related with management decisions at local scales cause a large heterogeneity of ecosystem responses. Consequently, depending on the management decisions taken, the negative effect of LUI could be mitigated.
Islands of dairy in a sea of sugarcane: the future of family dairy farming in Brazil
Monteiro Novo, A.L. - \ 2012
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Ken Giller, co-promotor(en): Maja Slingerland; Kees Jansen. - S.l. : s.n. - ISBN 9789461733696 - 141
bedrijfssystemen - suikerriet - melkveehouderij - kleine landbouwbedrijven - intensivering - brazilië - sao paulo - farming systems - sugarcane - dairy farming - small farms - intensification - brazil - sao paulo
The future of family farming is a matter of debate, especially because of the far-reaching economic and political changes that are occurring. One vision is that family farms will disappear because they are less efficient than large-scale industrial farming enterprises. Others foresee that they will survive, due to their ability to resist external forces and adapt their internal processes. The recent increase in worldwide demand for biofuels is changing economic and social relationships in many rural areas by creating potentially competing claims on natural resources. The huge Brazilian sugarcane industry, one of the most efficient in the world, has expanded enormously, replacing pastures. This thesis studies the (differential) impact that the increasing area of sugarcane has had on family dairy farmers in São Paulo state and the various drivers at different levels that influence land use and, therefore, the future of these farmers. Historical changes in land use, production technologies, and product and land prices are described, together with how these are linked to changing policies in Brazil. The study analyses how dairy farmers, with different rationales and resource endowments, react to the increased competition from sugarcane for land and labour. It shows that farmers have different options and strategies when considering leasing their land for sugarcane production. It also looks at local responses and alternatives to this trend and has found that intensifying small-scale dairy production holds potential for increasing the income and quality of life of small-scale farming households.
The research reveals that the increasing competition between milk production and sugarcane is not only the result of long-term governmental policies that support the expansion of the sugarcane business. It is also related to the internal dynamics of the dairy and beef chains. In the Brazilian case, different drivers (at different scales) have played an important role in the replacement of pastures by sugarcane. One factor is the ever-expanding milk frontier, which has been driven by technological innovations (e.g. UHT milk). Other factors include the price fluctuations in raw milk and beef that occurred after deregulation and the concentration that has occurred in the dairy industry and the retail sector. The study concludes that the expansion of sugarcane needs to be understood in the context of the dynamics of other agricultural sectors and the long-term national political economy rather than being seen solely as the result of recent increases in global demand for biofuel.
At the farm level, the study identified a more complex set of interactions than merely a competition between sugarcane and dairy farming. The comparison of different farm types reveals that labour availability, household resilience and technology introduction are the key factors influencing farmers’ decisions. The proximity of cities that offer more attractive jobs and provide schooling opportunities for farmers’ children is largely responsible for the labour shortages in family dairy farming. The effects of sugarcane expansion are contradictory and uneven according to the different strategies and resource endowments of farmers. Leasing land to sugarcane may be attractive to farmers as it reduces labour load and risk while guaranteeing a monthly income. On the other hand, farmers who abandon dairy production and totally rent to sugarcane may be entering a ‘one way street’: once the infrastructure is dismantled, they cannot return to their former business. Nevertheless, when only part of the land is rented to sugarcane as a form of diversification, this can offer a guaranteed extra income, fitting the rationale of resilience, lowering risks and uncertainties, and providing resources for investing in intensification. Neither option is feasible for very small farms due to the size of their operation.
This thesis went on to examine the option of dairy intensification as promoted by the Balde Cheio programme. The study of this programme provides insights into the interactions between technology, innovation and family farmers’ needs. It looks at a sample of farmers who joined the Balde Cheio programme and attained high land productivity, equivalent to that observed in developed countries that employ more intense, sophisticated and highly specialized production systems. The higher productivity was due to a combination of more lactating cows per unit area (31%), higher productivity per cow (24%) and better labour performance (37%) while using less land area (-7%). The gross margin per unit area almost doubled even though milk prices only increased by 7%. This was achieved through having a large number of lactating cows per unit area as a result of strategies that make use of the high potential for dry matter production of tropical grasses, (rather than through achieving extremely high productivity per cow - a typical strategy of non-grazing systems). These intensified milk production systems yielded an average of R$ 3,000/ha, which is highly competitive with R00/ha for sugarcane leasing and R00/ha for soybean production. The average values in terms of income per family member were also very competitive in comparison to average urban wages.
This research continued by analysing how such changes in the productive processes took place at the level of the family dairy farm. The examination of the internal dynamics of the Balde Cheio programme reveals several lessons for family farmer oriented research, development and extension. For example, it shows that it is possible to attain high levels of productivity and outstanding economic results without expensive ‘cutting-edge’ technologies but with an intense circulation of different forms of knowledge and skills supported by institutional arrangements, intense networking among different types of actors and the flexible application of relatively simple techniques. Other processes applied included trialling/experimenting under real farming conditions and adjusting to the farmer’s rhythm of innovation. These processes have narrowed the gap between ‘the scientific frontier’ – the advanced research orientation of the governmental research institutes – and the realities experienced by small dairy farming systems. The results show that, despite the increasing opportunity costs for land and labour and competition for local resources (created by other commodity chains and the attraction of urban areas), it is still possible for family dairy farmers to be competitive if they are supported to sustainably intensify their production processes.
Agricultural intensification : saving space for wildlife?
Baudron, F. - \ 2011
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Ken Giller, co-promotor(en): M. Corbeels; Jens Andersson; Pablo Tittonell. - [S.l.] : S.n. - ISBN 9789085859642 - 244
semi-aride klimaatzones - beschermingsgebieden - intensivering - kleine landbouwbedrijven - boeren - wild - hulpbronnenbeheer - katoen - natuurbescherming - zimbabwe - semiarid zones - conservation areas - intensification - small farms - farmers - wildlife - resource management - cotton - nature conservation - zimbabwe
Key words: agricultural frontier; smallholder; intensification; semi-arid area; wildlife; conservation agriculture; cotton; Zimbabwe.
Increasing agricultural production and preventing further losses in biodiversity are both legitimate objectives, but they compete strongly in the developing world. In this study, current tensions between agricultural production and environmental conservation were described and analysed in Mbire District, an agricultural frontier shared with wildlife that lies in the Mid-Zambezi Valley, in the northern fringe of Zimbabwe. The potential of conservation agriculture (CA) to intensify agricultural production with minimum negative environmental effects was then explored. The population of Mbire District almost doubled between 1992 and 2002, while the livestock densities increased at rates above 15% in the early 1990s and the late 2000s. From 1980 to 2007, the expansion of farmland over the years was described by an exponential relationship. It was suggested that these changes affected elephant and buffalo numbers negatively. Increase in human population, increase in cattle population, and expansion of cotton farming were all drivers on the observed land use change. However, cotton farming was demonstrated to be paramount, enabling cattle accumulation and expansion of plough-based agriculture. The ‘environmental footprint’ per farm was increasing significantly with the area under cotton and with the number of draught animals owned. A kilogram of seed cotton required 50% more land, removed twice as much N, 50% more K and 20% more P than a kilogram of cereal. However, except for pesticide, one man-day invested in cotton production had a smaller environmental footprint than a man-day invested in cereal production. As farming in Mbire District is limited by labour more than by land, specialising in cereal production would increase the total area occupied by crops and fallows, whilst specializing in cotton production would reduce this area. Therefore, maintaining or increasing the relative profitability of cotton vs. cereal may ‘spare land’ for nature. Compared with current farmers’ cropping practices (CP), CA had no effect on cotton productivity during years that received average or above average rainfall. During a drier year, however, CA was found to have a slightly negative effect (110 kg ha-1 less in on-farm trials and 220 kg ha-1 less in farmers’ cotton fields). Most soils in the study area are coarse-textured soils, on which runoff were significantly greater with CA than with CP. For these reasons, farmers perceived ploughing as necessary during drier years to maximize water infiltration, but saw CA as beneficial during wetter years as a means to ‘shed water’ and avoid waterlogging. In Zimbabwe, the approach used in the extension of CA appears to differ little from an earlier attempt to intensify smallholder agricultural production almost a century earlier: the Alvord model. In particular, the rationale of African smallholder farming has been persistently ignored. The analysis of smallholder farming practices in Mbire District showed how the socio-economic constraints they faced predisposed them towards extensification. In particular, labour availability for weeding was found to be a major limiting factor in the area. The increased weed pressure in CA is therefore a major reason preventing smallholders from embracing it. As a conclusion, mitigating conflicts between agricultural production and biodiversity conservation will require major innovations, far beyond CA. CA should be seen as part of a larger basket of technologies aiming at ‘ecological intensification’. In parallel to the development of technical innovations, local institutions should be empowered and strong regulations put in place.
Agricultural intensification and farmland birds
Geiger, F. - \ 2011
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Frank Berendse; Geert de Snoo. - [S.l. : S.n. - ISBN 9789085858447 - 184
vogels - landbouwgrond - intensivering - intensieve productie - biodiversiteit - agrarische bedrijfsvoering - pesticiden - biologische bestrijding - biologische landbouw - voedingsgedrag - nederland - europa - weidevogels - agrarisch natuurbeheer - birds - agricultural land - intensification - intensive production - biodiversity - farm management - pesticides - biological control - organic farming - feeding behaviour - netherlands - europe - grassland birds - agri-environment schemes
Samen met onderzoekers van acht Europese universiteiten, heeft Flavia Geiger de effecten van verschillende landbouwpraktijken op boerenlandvogels onderzocht. In negen Europese studiegebieden waren soortenrijkdom en dichtheid van boerenlandvogels lager op akkerbouwbedrijven met een hogere graanopbrengst. Het gebruik van gewasbeschermingsmiddelen had een negatief effect op boerenlandvogels. Soortenrijkdom en dichtheid van broedvogels verschilde niet tussen biologische en gangbare bedrijven.
Explaining agricultural intensity at the European and global scale
Neumann, K. - \ 2010
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Tom Veldkamp; Peter Verburg. - [S.l. : S.n. - ISBN 9789085857099 - 168
landgebruik - veehouderij - intensieve landbouw - intensivering - wiskundige modellen - geografische informatiesystemen - ruimtelijke verdeling - variatie in de tijd - europa - wereld - land use - livestock farming - intensive farming - intensification - mathematical models - geographical information systems - spatial distribution - temporal variation - europe - world
Op Europese schaal is een analyse gedaan om de ruimtelijke verdeling van vijf verschillende soorten dieren te verklaren. Locatiefactoren voor de aanwezigheid van: melkvee, vleesvee en schapen (herbivoren), alsmede varkens en pluimvee werden werden onderzocht en gebruikt om de ruimtelijke verdeling van de veedichtheid te karteren.
Africa, Agriculture, Aid
Kuyvenhoven, A. - \ 2008
NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 55 (2008)2. - ISSN 1573-5214 - p. 93 - 112.
ontwikkelingsbeleid - ontwikkelingshulp - afrika - ontwikkelingslanden - plattelandsontwikkeling - agrarische economie - landbouwontwikkeling - intensivering - innovatie adoptie - ontwikkelingseconomie - development policy - development aid - africa - developing countries - rural development - agricultural economics - agricultural development - intensification - innovation adoption - development economics - sustainable land-use - poverty traps
In a world that is developing fast, Africa¿s relative stagnation is a human tragedy that challenges the development profession. Although climate and geography, and their effect on local institutions, are not in Africa¿s favour, inappropriate policies (including neglect of agriculture) and weak institutions figure more prominently in the explanation of slow growth. Recent evidence, however, points to accelerated growth in many parts of Africa. Analysis of agriculture shows that adverse effects of nature can be handled effectively, that efforts to develop and apply technologies for intensification in a variety of farming systems are under way, but that sustained adoption by the mass of smallholders has not sufficiently taken place. For that to happen, a variety of time- and location-specific complementary actions - both public and private - are needed, based on a right mix of disciplinary knowledge. With positive changes in governance and a revival of agricultural priorities in Africa, favourable conditions are emerging for renewed and better targeted external aid to support agricultural development.