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 the relations between farmers’ seed demand and research methods: The challenge to do better
    Almekinders, Conny J.M. ; Beumer, Koen ; Hauser, Michael ; Misiko, Michael ; Gatto, Marcel ; Nkurumwa, Agnes O. ; Erenstein, Olaf - \ 2019
    Outlook on Agriculture 48 (2019)1. - ISSN 0030-7270 - p. 16 - 21.
    agricultural technology - attractiveness - context - social life of methods

    Although the development of improved seeds has witnessed significant advances over the last decades, the adoption of improved seeds and varieties by smallholder farmers is variable. This suggests that research methods for studying farmers’ seed demand are not yielding information that reflects the real-life decisions and behaviours of farmers in the choice and acquisition of their seeds. We suggest that research methods for analysing farmers’ seed demand shape seed availability. This is supported by the theory of social life of methods. We argue that access to and attractiveness of seed are highly context-specific for a farmer, for example, influenced by his/her social position, the role of the crop or variety in the farming system, the linkage to the market, agro-ecological conditions, and that context is highly variable. We also argue that many of our research methods are weak on capturing real-life context and provide fragmented snapshot-nature understanding and biases of farmers preferences and needs for seeds. We call for more integrated understanding of seed systems as a whole and a more holistic methodological research approach that better captures the variable real-life context of farmers while providing the metrics that are needed by seed actors and policymakers to enable informed decisions.

    Conservation tillage for sustainable wheat intensification: the example of South Asia
    Krishna, V. ; Keil, A. ; Aravindakshan, S. ; Meena, M. - \ 2017
    In: Achieving Sustainable Cultivation of Wheat / Langridge, P., Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing Limited (Burleigh Dodds Series in Agricultural Science ) - ISBN 9781786760203 - p. 1 - 22.
    The wheat production sector of South Asia has registered only a sluggish productivity growth in the last two decades (FAOSTAT, 2015). The rate of growth, which is lower than the wheat yield growth realized in the rest of the world (Shiferaw et al., 2013), is inadequate to keep pace with the population expansion in the region. Along with a rapidly changing climate, degradation of the natural resource base as a result of intensive farming and inappropriate use of inputs is often cited as one of the root causes of the problem (Chauhan et al., 2012; Erenstein and Laxmi, 2008; Sekar and Pal, 2012). To achieve a sustainable yield growth rate in wheat, there has been an increased scientific interest in developing environmentally sustainable agronomic practices that are resource conserving, while ensuring financial benefit to farmers. This paradigm shift is closely associated with an increased awareness in the public policy arena towards the negative environmental externalities associated with the traditional farming practices. Most prominent among such resource-conserving technologies in the cereal systems of South Asia is conservation tillage (CT) in wheat (Derpsch et al., 2010), which is identified also as one of the key

    agricultural practices that can enhance the adaptive capacity of farming communities and the potential of farming practices to mitigate the challenges of climate change in the tropics (Harvey et al., 2014; Sapkota et al., 2015). In this chapter, we examine the recently emerged evidence on the on-farm impacts of the ensemble of CT technologies in wheat production and the possible constraints hindering its widespread diffusion in the IndoGangetic Plains (IGP) of South Asia. We use the umbrella term ‘CT wheat’ to represent zero-tillage (ZT), reduced-tillage and ridge-tillage practices in wheat production.
    Drivers of household food availability in sub-Saharan Africa based on big data from small farms
    Frelat, Romain ; Lopez-Ridaura, Santiago ; Giller, K.E. ; Herrero, Mario ; Douxchamps, Sabine ; Djurfeldt, Agnes Andersson ; Erenstein, Olaf ; Henderson, Ben ; Kassie, Menale ; Paul, B.K. ; Rigolot, Cyrille ; Ritzema, Randall S. ; Rodriguez, Daniel ; Asten, P.J.A. Van; Wijk, M.T. Van - \ 2016
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113 (2016)2. - ISSN 0027-8424 - p. 458 - 463.
    Farm size - Food security - Resource scarcity - Smallholder farmers - Yield gap

    We calculated a simple indicator of food availability using data from 93 sites in 17 countries across contrasted agroecologies in sub-Saharan Africa (>13,000 farm households) and analyzed the drivers of variations in food availability. Crop production was the major source of energy, contributing 60% of food availability. The off-farm income contribution to food availability ranged from 12% for households without enough food available (18% of the total sample) to 27% for the 58% of households with sufficient food available. Using only three explanatory variables (household size, number of livestock, and land area), we were able to predict correctly the agricultural determined status of food availability for 72% of the households, but the relationships were strongly influenced by the degree of market access. Our analyses suggest that targeting poverty through improving market access and off-farm opportunities is a better strategy to increase food security than focusing on agricultural production and closing yield gaps. This calls for multisectoral policy harmonization, incentives, and diversification of employment sources rather than a singular focus on agricultural development. Recognizing and understanding diversity among smallholder farm households in sub-Saharan Africa is key for the design of policies that aim to improve food security.

    Identifying determinants, pressures and trade-offs of crop residue use in mixed smallholder farms in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
    Valbuena Vargas, Diego ; Tui, Sabine Homann Kee ; Erenstein, Olaf ; Teufel, Nils ; Duncan, Alan ; Abdoulaye, Tahirou ; Swain, Braja ; Mekonnen, Kindu ; Germaine, Ibro ; Gérard, Bruno - \ 2015
    Agricultural Systems 134 (2015). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 107 - 118.
    Biomass - Conservation agriculture - Crop-livestock farms - Intensification - Intensity - Sustainable intensification

    Crop residues (CR) have become a limited resource in mixed crop-livestock farms. As a result of the increasing demand and low availability of alternative resources, CR became an essential resource for household activities, especially for livestock keeping; a major livelihood element of smallholder farmers in the developing world. Farmers' decisions on CR use are determined by farmers' preferences, total crop production, availability of alternative resources and demand for CR. Interaction of these determinants can result in pressures and trade-offs of CR use. Determinants, pressures and trade-offs are shaped by the specific socio-economic and agro-ecological context of these mixed farms. The objective of this paper is to provide a comparative analysis of the determinants of CR use and to examine some options to cope with pressures and trade-offs in 12 study sites across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Drawing on socio-economic data at household and village level, we describe how cereal intensification and livestock feed demand influence use, pressures and trade-offs of CR use across study sites, specifically cereal residue. Our results show that in low cereal production and livestock feed demand sites, despite a low demand for CR and availability of alternative biomass, pressures and trade-offs of CR use are common particularly in the dry season. In sites with moderate cereal production, and low-moderate and moderate livestock feed demand, alternative biomass resources are scarce and most residues are fed to livestock or used to cover household needs. Subsequently, pressures and potential trade-offs are stronger. In sites with low cereal production and high livestock feed demand, pressures and trade-offs depend on the availability of better feed resources. Finally, sites with high cereal production and high livestock feed demand have been able to fulfil most of the demand for CR, limiting pressures and trade-offs. These patterns show that agricultural intensification, better management of communal resources and off-farm activities are plausible development pathways to overcome pressures and trade-offs of CR use. Although technologies can largely improve these trends, research and development should revisit past initiatives so as to develop innovative approaches to tackle the well-known problem of low agricultural production in many smallholder mixed systems, creating more sustainable futures.

    Beyond conservation agriculture
    Giller, K.E. ; Andersson, J.A. ; Corbeels, Marc ; Kirkegaard, John ; Mortensen, David ; Erenstein, Olaf ; Vanlauwe, Bernard - \ 2015
    Frontiers in Plant Science 6 (2015)OCTOBER. - ISSN 1664-462X - 14 p.
    Climate smart agriculture - Legumes - Mulch - Soil erosion - Sustainable intensification - Systems agronomy

    Global support for Conservation Agriculture (CA) as a pathway to Sustainable Intensification is strong. CA revolves around three principles: no-till (or minimal soil disturbance), soil cover, and crop rotation. The benefits arising from the ease of crop management, energy/cost/time savings, and soil and water conservation led to widespread adoption of CA, particularly on large farms in the Americas and Australia, where farmers harness the tools of modern science: highly-sophisticated machines, potent agrochemicals, and biotechnology. Over the past 10 years CA has been promoted among smallholder farmers in the (sub-) tropics, often with disappointing results. Growing evidence challenges the claims that CA increases crop yields and builds-up soil carbon although increased stability of crop yields in dry climates is evident. Our analyses suggest pragmatic adoption on larger mechanized farms, and limited uptake of CA by smallholder farmers in developing countries. We propose a rigorous, context-sensitive approach based on Systems Agronomy to analyze and explore sustainable intensification options, including the potential of CA. There is an urgent need to move beyond dogma and prescriptive approaches to provide soil and crop management options for farmers to enable the Sustainable Intensification of agriculture.

    Editorial: Biomass use trade-offs in cereal cropping systems in the developing world : Overview
    Erenstein, Olaf ; Gérard, Bruno ; Tittonell, Pablo - \ 2015
    Agricultural Systems 134 (2015). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 1 - 5.
    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.
    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.
    Europese rivierkreeft in Nederland: kansen in Kerkrade
    Roessink, I. ; Ottburg, F.G.W.A. - \ 2012
    Wageningen : Alterra (Alterra-rapport 2372) - 47
    rivierkreeft - habitats - aquatische ecologie - waterkwaliteit - dierentuinen - herintroductie van soorten - zuid-limburg - crayfish - habitats - aquatic ecology - water quality - zoological gardens - reintroduction of species - zuid-limburg
    Dit onderzoek is uitgevoerd in opdracht van de gemeente Kerkrade. In dit onderzoek wordt onderzocht of er voor een herintroductie van de Europese rivierkreeft in zijn oorspronkelijke leefgebied mogelijke geschikte locaties binnen het gebied ‘Park Erenstein’ aanwezig zijn. Om dit te bepalen zijn verschillende waterpartijen in dit gebied geïnventariseerd op hun geschiktheid waarbij gebruik gemaakt is van chemische, fysische en biologische kwaliteitscriteria en de mate van isolatie van het water. De onderzochte waterpartijen lagen in Gaia Zoo park, aan de Cranenweyer of meer geïsoleerd in het gebied. Uit de inventarisatie blijkt dat er verschillende locaties binnen het gebied aanwezig zijn die direct geschikt lijken voor een uitzetting van Europese rivierkreeften (dit zijn de waterpartij van het muskusossenverblijf, van het gorillaverblijf en die bij de ingang van Gaia Zoo park). Ook zijn er enkele locaties die in hun huidige toestand nog niet geschikt zijn, maar zeker potentieel geschikt te maken zijn (waterpartij bij slingerapen en de vijver bij Nieuw Erenstein). Het voorkomen van grote (roof)vissen en concurrerende Turkse rivierkreeften maken de Cranenweyer zelf en de hiermee verbonden wateren niet geschikt voor het uitzetten van de Europese rivierkreeft
    Conservation Agriculture in mixed crop–livestock systems: Scoping crop residue trade-offs in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
    Valbuena, D.F. ; Erenstein, O. ; Homann-Kee Tui, S. ; Abdoulaye, T. ; Claessens, L.F.G. ; Duncan, A.J. ; Gerard, B. ; Rufino, M. ; Teufel, N. ; Wijk, M.T. van - \ 2012
    Field Crops Research 132 (2012). - ISSN 0378-4290 - p. 175 - 184.
    smallholder farming systems - soil fertility management - pressure - food - productivity - strategies - community - dynamics - patterns - zimbabwe
    Conservation Agriculture (CA) is being advocated to enhance soil health and sustain long term crop productivity in the developing world. One of CA's key principles is the maintenance of soil cover often by retaining a proportion of crop residues on the field as mulch. Yet smallholder crop–livestock systems across Africa and Asia face trade-offs among various options for crop residue use. Knowledge of the potential trade-offs of leaving more residues as mulch is only partial and the objective of this research is to address some of these knowledge gaps by assessing the trade-offs in contrasting settings with mixed crop–livestock systems. The paper draws from village surveys in 12 sites in 9 different countries across Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia. Sites were clustered into 3 groups along the combined population and livestock density gradients to assess current crop residue management practices and explore potential challenges to adopting mulching practices in different circumstances. Results show that although high-density sites face higher potential pressure on resources on an area basis, biomass production tends to be more substantial in these sites covering demands for livestock feed and allowing part of the residues to be used as mulch. In medium-density sites, although population and livestock densities are relatively lower, biomass is scarce and pressure on land and feed are high, increasing the pressure on crop residues and their opportunity cost as mulch. In low-density areas, population and livestock densities are relatively low and communal feed and fuel resources exist, resulting in lower potential pressure on residues on an area basis. Yet, biomass production is low and farmers largely rely on crop residues to feed livestock during the long dry season, implying substantial opportunity costs to their use as mulch. Despite its potential benefit for smallholder farmers across the density gradient, the introduction of CA-based mulching practices appears potentially easier in sites where biomass production is high enough to fulfil existing demands for feed and fuel. In sites with relatively high feed and fuel pressure, the eventual introduction of CA needs complementary research and development efforts to increase biomass production and/or develop alternative sources to alleviate the opportunity costs of leaving some crop residues as mulch.
    The economics of soil conservation in developing countries: the case of crop residue mulching
    Erenstein, O.C.A. - \ 1999
    Agricultural University. Promotor(en): A. Kuyvenhoven; L. Stroosnijder; H.A.J. Moll. - S.l. : S.n. - ISBN 9789058080899 - 301
    erosie - bodembescherming - mulchen - oogstresten - innovatie adoptie - technologie - grondbewerking gericht op bodemconservering - economische evaluatie - ontwikkelingslanden - mexico - erosion - soil conservation - mulching - crop residues - innovation adoption - technology - conservation tillage - economic evaluation - developing countries - mexico
    The study contributes to the search for a methodology to assess soil conservation, particularly in developing countries. The study first assesses the economics of soil conservation in general - with special emphasis on the relationships between technology, economic analysis and policy implications. The quantification and valuation of soil erosion and soil conservation are highly controversial and present considerable analytical challenges that have been tackled in varying ways. By implication, government intervention is controversial too - and has typically been unsuccessful. This has direct implications for both the development of conservation technology and the implementation of conservation interventions.

    The study subsequently assesses the economics of one particular technological conservation option: crop residue mulching (also known as conservation tillage). An analytical framework is developed to assess the socio-economics of the technology in developing countries. The technology assessment framework follows a stepwise expanding analysis along a three-tier hierarchy: crop production, the farm household and the institutional setting. This results in a private and a social assessment of the technology, and the formulation of corresponding policy implications. The framework is applied in ex ante , ex post and partial analyses of crop residue mulching in different settings in Mexico and Central America. Conclusions are drawn regarding the technology assessment framework and crop residue mulching.

    The author can be contacted

    The study is also published in the Mansholt Studies, Wageningen University and can be ordered from Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, the Netherlands (,

    La conservación de residuos en los sistemas de producción de maiz en Ciudad Guzmán y San Gabriel, Jalisco
    Erenstein, O. - \ 1999
    Unknown Publisher - 37 p.
    Linear programming and land use planning: a case study of Matara District, Sri Lanka.
    Erenstein, O. ; Schipper, R.A. - \ 1993
    Wageningen : Agricultural University - ISBN 9789067543149 - 95
    landgebruik - lineair programmeren - bedrijfsvoering - operationeel onderzoek - ruimtelijke ordening - plattelandsontwikkeling - plattelandsplanning - sri lanka - zonering - land use - linear programming - management - operations research - physical planning - rural development - rural planning - sri lanka - zoning
    Land use planning : an application of multilevel and multicriteria linear programming models : draft
    Erenstein, O.C.A. ; Schipper, R.A. - \ 1992
    Wageningen : Wageningen Agricultural University - 58
    ontwerp - ontwikkeling - landgebruiksplanning - optimalisatie - ruimtelijke ordening - planning - beleid - programmeren - programma's - computer software - computerwiskunde - design - development - land use planning - optimization - physical planning - planning - policy - programming - programs - computer software - computational mathematics
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