Tradeoffs around crop residue biomass in smallholder crop-livestock systems - What's next?
Tittonell, P.A. ; Gérard, B. ; Erenstein, O. - \ 2015
Agricultural Systems 134 (2015). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 119 - 128.
sub-saharan africa - define conservation agriculture - soil fertility management - south-western niger - food-feed crops - ecological intensification - farming systems - impact assessment - appropriate use - 4th principle
Much has been written on the tradeoffs that smallholder farmers face when having to allocate their biomass resources among competing objectives such as feed, fuel, mulch, compost or the market. This paper summarises yet a new body of evidence from 10 studies on tradeoffs in the allocation of cereal crop residue biomass between soil management and livestock feeding in developing regions, published in the special issue of Agricultural Systems ‘Biomass use tradeoffs in cereal cropping systems: Lessons and implications from the developing world’. The studies cover a diversity of socio-ecological contexts, farming system types and scales of analysis. We reflect on their main findings and methodological progress, and on the new and not-so-new implications of these findings for research and action in the development agenda. We propose stylised graphical models to portray tradeoffs and plausible trajectories towards synergies, in the hope that such generalisations would prevent further efforts to ‘reinvent the wheel’ in the realm of tradeoffs analysis. We advocate an ex-post impact assessment of recent investments in systems research to help focus such research further and clearly define its future role in prioritizing and targeting development interventions.
Heterogeneity in farmers’ production decisions and its impact on soil nutrient use: Results and implications from northern Nigeria
Berkhout, E.D. ; Schipper, R.A. ; Keulen, H. van; Coulibaly, O. - \ 2011
Agricultural Systems 104 (2011)1. - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 63 - 74.
sustainable agricultural intensification - south-western niger - resource use - systems - management - policy - model - scenarios - dynamics - balances
Sustainable use (in terms of nutrients) of soil resources by farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa is constrained by institutions and markets. This paper explores the case of northern Nigeria, by using a combination of multi-attribute utility theory and bio-economic modelling. This approach allowed us to identify heterogeneity in production strategies and to quantify its effect on the use of soil nutrient resources. We find that farmers with larger land holdings place more emphasis on gross margins in their utility function, while those with larger holdings of fertile fadama fields place more emphasis on sustainability. Risk aversion, operationalised through variance minimization, appears an important attribute in the utility function of many farm households that are more dependent on agriculture for their overall income. A regression analysis shows that differences in production strategies significantly affect nutrient balances, but also shows that such effects are heterogeneous across locations. We find more favourable nutrient balances for some of the more market-oriented farm households who place more emphasis on sustainability. In farm plans of the most risk-averse households, the production of cereals for subsistence consumption dominates and leads to negative soil nutrient balances, especially for potassium. Farmers who place a large importance on gross margins are likely to benefit most from policies aimed at enhancing profitability through improving functioning of markets. The large group of risk-averse farmers will have the largest immediate gain in utility from policies and technologies aimed at reducing production risk in high-value crops. Additional policies aimed at creating a stronger market-oriented production by the least-endowed farm households could play a role in reducing intensity of soil fertility mining. Under these conditions, the efficient cropping pattern shifts partially from cereal cropping to high-value crops, associated with higher input use. The main results are similar to those in other studies, although some of the nutrient balances are less negative. The results do appear to be sensitive to the type of cropping activities included in the analysis, and additional methodological research is required. Extensions of the used method should further account for temporal and spatial differences in soil fertility, leading to differences in nutrient uptake and production, as well as potential temporal heterogeneity in production strategies.