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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    Understanding smallholder farmers’ capacity to respond to climate change in a coastal community in Central Vietnam
    Phuong, Le Thi Hong ; Biesbroek, G.R. ; Sen, Le Thi Hoa ; Wals, Arjen E.J. - \ 2018
    Climate and Development 10 (2018)8. - ISSN 1756-5529 - p. 701 - 716.
    adaptive capacity - agricultural production - barrier to adaptation - climate change adaptation - smallholder farmers - Vietnam
    Climate change as expressed by erratic rainfall, increased flooding, extended droughts, frequency tropical cyclones or saline water intrusion, poses severe threats to smallholder farmers in Vietnam. Adaptation of the agricultural sector is vital to increase the resilience of smallholder farmers’ livelihoods in times of climate change. To complement efforts already implemented by farmers to reduce social vulnerability it is important to understand how farmers perceive their current and future capacity to adapt to climate change. This paper aims to explore smallholder farmers’ capacity to respond to climate change in current and future agricultural production. We carried out open, in-depth interviews (n = 13), focus group discussions, and structured interviews (n = 114) in the Thua Thien Hue province. Our findings show that farmers nowadays experience more extreme climate variability. Farmers report increasing stresses due to temperature increase and droughts. The autonomous adaptation strategies adopted by farmers include; adjusting the season calendar, using tolerant varieties and breeds, applying integrated crop production models, and income diversification. The motives for adopting particular planned adaptation options differ between farmers in crop production and livestock production. Four factors were found to be significant (p < .05) in influencing the spread of adaptation measures (AMs) farmers adopted: farm income, the number of available information sources, number of workers on the farm, and farmable land available during the summer season. Farmers report several barriers to implement adaptation strategies including; market price fluctuations, lack of skilled labour, lack of climate change information, and lack of capacity to learn and apply techniques in their daily practice. While both crop and livestock farmers participated in one or several training courses on climate change in the past years, livestock farmers were still uncertain about their future capacity and possible AMs.
    Data from: What are the prospects for citizen science in agriculture? Evidence from three continents on motivation and mobile telephone use of resource-poor farmers
    Beza, E.A. ; Steinke, Jonathan ; Etten, Jacob van; Reidsma, P. ; Fadda, Carlo ; Mittra, Sarika ; Mathur, Prem ; Kooistra, L. - \ 2017
    Wageningen University & Research
    citizen science - crowd sourcing - mobile phone - motivations - gamification - smallholder farmers
    As the sustainability of agricultural citizen science projects depends on volunteer farmers who contribute their time, energy and skills, understanding their motivation is important to attract and retain participants in citizen science projects. The objectives of this study were to assess 1) farmers' motivations to participate as citizen scientists and 2) farmers' mobile telephone usage. Building on motivational factors identified from previous citizen science studies, a questionnaire based methodology was developed which allowed the analysis of motivational factors and their relation to farmers' characteristics. The questionnaire was applied in three communities of farmers, in countries from different continents, participating as citizen scientists. We used statistical tests to compare motivational factors within and among the three countries. In addition, the relations between motivational factors and farmers characteristics were assessed. Lastly, Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to group farmers based on their motivations. Although there was an overlap between the types of motivations, for Indian farmers a collectivistic type of motivation (i.e., contribute to scientific research) was more important than egoistic and altruistic motivations. For Ethiopian and Honduran farmers an egoistic intrinsic type of motivation (i.e., interest in sharing information) was most important. While fun has appeared to be an important egoistic intrinsic factor to participate in other citizen science projects, the smallholder farmers involved in this research valued 'passing free time' the lowest. Two major groups of farmers were distinguished: one motivated by sharing information (egoistic intrinsic), helping (altruism) and contribute to scientific research (collectivistic) and one motivated by egoistic extrinsic factors (expectation, expert interaction and community interaction). Country and education level were the two most important farmers' characteristics that explain around 20% of the variation in farmers motivations. For educated farmers, contributing to scientific research was a more important motivation to participate as citizen scientists compared to less educated farmers. We conclude that motivations to participate in citizen science are different for smallholders in agriculture compared to other sectors. Citizen science does have high potential, but easy to use mechanisms are needed. Moreover, gamification may increase the egoistic intrinsic motivation of farmers.
    Pesticide use practices among smallholder vegetable farmers in Ethiopian Central Rift Valley
    Mengistie, B.T. ; Mol, A.P.J. ; Oosterveer, P.J.M. - \ 2017
    Environment, Development and Sustainability 19 (2017)1. - ISSN 1387-585X - p. 301 - 324.
    pesticide use - social practice theory - environmentally correct practices - sustainable consumption - smallholder farmers - vegetable - Ethiopia
    Pesticide use is a common practice to control pests and diseases in vegetable cultivation, but often at the expense of the environment and human health. This article studies pesticide-buying and use practices among smallholder vegetable farmers in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia, using a practice perspective. Through in-depth interviews and observations, data were collected from a sample of farmers, suppliers and key governmental actors. The results reveal that farmers apply pesticides in violation of the recommendations: they use unsafe storage facilities, ignore risks and safety instructions, do not use protective devices when applying pesticides, and dispose containers unsafely. By applying a social practice approach, we show that these pesticide-handling practices are steered by the combination of the system of provision, the farmers’ lifestyle and the everyday context in which pesticides are being bought and used. Bringing in new actors such as environmental authorities, suppliers, NGOs and private actors, as well as social and technological innovations, may contribute to changes in the actual performance of these pesticides buying and using practices. This article argues that a practice approach represents a promising perspective to analyse pesticide handling and use and to systematically identify ways to change these.
    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.
    Effects of technical interventions on flexibility of farming systems in Burkina Faso: Lessons for the design of innovations in West Africa
    Andrieu, N. ; Descheemaeker, K.K.E. ; Sanou, T. ; Chia, E. - \ 2015
    Agricultural Systems 136 (2015). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 125 - 137.
    crop-livestock systems - sub-saharan africa - climate-change - smallholder farmers - coping strategies - modeling approach - decision-making - constraints - uncertainty - variability
    African farmers have always been exposed to climatic and economic variability and have developed a range of coping strategies. Such strategies form part of flexible farm management, an ability that may prove very valuable in the face of future climate change and market dynamics. The generally low productivity of African smallholder farming systems is usually addressed by research and development institutions by a variety of solutions for improving farm performance. However, changes to the system may affect the flexibility of farms and thus their ability to cope with variability. We quantified the added value of being flexible and how this flexibility is affected by technical changes, such as composting and cattle fattening recurrently proposed and promoted by research and development institutions and projects. The study was conducted in two villages of the agro-pastoral area of Burkina Faso, where livestock, cereals and cotton are the main farming activities. A whole-farm simulation model was developed based on information gathered during focus group meetings with farmers and detailed individual monitoring of farmers' practices. The model simulates farmers' decision rules governing the management of the cropping and livestock farm components, as well as crop and livestock production and farm gross margin. Using the existing decision rules, current farm performance was simulated by assessing the cereal balance, the fodder balance and the whole farm gross margin. Then, by comparing the mean and the coefficient of variation of these indicators resulting from (a) the existing decision rules (baseline scenario) and (b) a set of less flexible rules (rigid scenario), the added value of flexible management was revealed. The adoption of composting practices allowed a slight increase in gross margin associated with a decrease in its between-year variability in comparison with conventional practices. Cattle fattening only led to a higher gross margin in the years with high rainfall and low input prices when no management practices were used to limit dependence on external input. This kind of technical change thus requires increased management agility by farmers to deal with climatic and economic variability. We conclude that assessing the impact of technical interventions not only in terms of productivity but also in terms of changes in flexibility is useful for a better understanding of potential adoption of technical changes
    The effect of long-term Maresha ploughing on soil physical properties in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia
    Temesgen, B.B. ; Stroosnijder, L. ; Temesgen, M. ; AdulKedir, A. ; Sterk, G. - \ 2011
    Soil & Tillage Research 111 (2011)2. - ISSN 0167-1987 - p. 115 - 122.
    tillage systems - crust formation - smallholder farmers - water conservation - faidherbia-albida - surface soil - sandy soils - management - evaporation - africa
    For thousands of years, smallholder-based crop farming in Ethiopia has been practiced with oxen ploughing using the traditional Maresha ard plough where consecutive tillage operations are undertaken perpendicular to each other. Despite its wide acceptance by smallholder farmers, long-term use of the Maresha is believed to deteriorate the soil's physical properties. This study examines the surface and subsurface infiltration, soil evaporation and penetration resistance of sandy loam soils that have been exposed to varying durations (0, 2, 7, 22 and 35 years) of cultivation after being converted from acacia-based grassland dominated by Acacia tortilis and Acacia senegal in the Central Rift Valley (CRV) of Ethiopia. The infiltration rate of the surface layer increased significantly (p = 0.05) immediately after conversion from acacia-based grassland to cultivated land. Thereafter, there was a weak decreasing trend (p > 0.05, R2 = 0.24) in infiltration rate with years of cultivation. Unlike the surface soil layer, there was no significant difference in the subsurface (below 15 cm) infiltration between the acacia-based grassland and lands cultivated for varying numbers of years. Following a rain event satisfying field capacity of the soils, the daily soil evaporation increased significantly (p = 0.05) with increased duration of cultivation. The cumulative evaporation, observed over 5 consecutive days following the last rainfall, increased by 2.4 times in the 35 years old cultivated land from the acacia-based grassland. There was also a strong correlation (R2 = 0.86) between a (the slope of the cumulative evaporation versus the square root of time) and an increase in the years of cultivation. It is, therefore, concluded that long-term Maresha cultivation along with the present soil management makes the maize crop susceptible to drought and dry-spells. Improved soil management and development of appropriate tillage are needed to maximize rainwater use efficiency and achieve a more sustained agricultural production in the drought-prone CRV of Ethiopia
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