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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    Drivers of groundwater utilization in water-limited rice production systems in Nepal
    Urfels, Anton ; McDonald, Andrew J. ; Krupnik, Timothy J. ; Oel, Pieter R. van - \ 2020
    Water International 45 (2020)1. - ISSN 0250-8060 - p. 39 - 59.
    decision processes - Eastern Gangetic Plains - Groundwater irrigation - Nepal - resilience - smallholders

    Most rice farmers in Nepal’s Terai region do not fully utilize irrigation during breaks in monsoon rainfall. This leads to yield losses despite abundant groundwater resources and ongoing expansion of diesel pumps and tubewell infrastructure. We investigate this puzzle by characterizing delay factors governing tubewell irrigation across wealth and precipitation gradients. After the decision to irrigate, different factors delay irrigation by roughly one week. While more sustainable and inexpensive energy for pumping may eventually catalyze transformative change, we identify near-term interventions that may increase rice farmers’ resilience to water stress in smallholder-dominated farming communities based on prevailing types of irrigation infrastructure.

    Multi-level socioecological drivers of agrarian change: Longitudinal evidence from mixed rice-livestock-aquaculture farming systems of Bangladesh
    Aravindakshan, Sreejith ; Krupnik, Timothy J. ; Groot, Jeroen C.J. ; Speelman, Erika N. ; Amjath- Babu, T.S. ; Tittonell, Pablo - \ 2020
    Agricultural Systems 177 (2020). - ISSN 0308-521X
    Coastal systems are facing natural and human-driven change coupled with a rising population. With increasing shifts in socioecological conditions during the past several decades, it is important to understand how socioecological drivers at different hierarchical levels: -micro, -meso, and -macro affect coastal farming systems, which play a crucial role in the livelihoods of coastal dwellers. Mixed rice-livestock-aquaculture farming in Southern Bangladesh exemplifies the rapid change occurring in many of the world's coastal farming systems in response to these drivers. We used panel data observations from the above study area and modeled trajectories of farm typologies, and the impact of multi-level socioecological drivers by a novel approach. Our approach integrates: (1) a well-articulated conceptual frame of change observed using (2) a temporal view of the potential drivers, change process and farm type outcomes, with the twenty years panel data of 502 households that is analyzed by means of (3) multivariate statistics in conjunction with panel data models that operationalize the conceptual frame. Our approach allows (a) estimating dynamic effects over time that typically cannot be estimated in a cross-sectional data set, (b) distinguishing between time-invariant fixed and time dependent random effects of multi-level socioecological drivers, and (c) controlling for omitted variables to a certain extent. Considering farming systems both within and outside of polder embankment systems intended to protect against oceanic water intrusion, we found a gradual shift from heterogeneous, rice-livestock farm types to more homogenous farms with less livestock and more off-farm activities. Micro-level factors including farm plot fragmentation, farmers' experience in cropping, machinery, salinity and soil fertility were influencing changes in farming systems. Meso-level factors including markets, road infrastructure, labor availability, access to extension and land tenure also affect the trajectory of farming systems change. Among macro-level drivers, increasing population density positively and significantly influenced cropping intensity among farms outside polder systems. Within polders, a positive but non-significant trend was observed for the influence of population density on cropping intensity. Our data also indicate negative and significant influence of cyclonic storms on cropping intensity over time in both areas. Our results underscore the importance of accounting for multiple levels of socioecological drivers of change when developing appropriate policy options for sustainable development in South Asia's coastal farming systems.
    Farming on the fringe: Shallow groundwater dynamics and irrigation scheduling for maize and wheat in Bangladesh's coastal delta
    Schulthess, Urs ; Ahmed, Zia Uddin ; Aravindakshan, Sreejith ; Rokon, Golam Morshed ; Alanuzzaman Kurishi, A.S.M. ; Krupnik, Timothy J. - \ 2019
    Field Crops Research 239 (2019). - ISSN 0378-4290 - p. 135 - 148.
    Irrigation - Profitability - Shallow groundwater - Soil salinity - Water salinity - Water table

    Further efforts are needed to combat poverty and agricultural productivity problems in the delta region of Bangladesh. Sustainable intensification of crop production through irrigation and production of cash crops such as maize and wheat might be a promising option to increase income and diversify food production. Only limited research has however been conducted on the potential of using surface water from canals as an irrigation source for maize and wheat production in the delta region. To better understand the contribution of shallow groundwater to crop production and number of irrigations needed for maize and wheat in this unique coastal environment, we conducted multi-locational trials on farmers' fields over three rabi seasons. In addition to soil moisture and salinity, we recorded the depth and salinity of the shallow water table throughout these experiments. Maize in particular requires considerable capital investment for seeds, fertilizer, irrigation and labor. Although farmers express wide interest in maize – which can be sold as a profitable cash crop into Bangladesh's expanding poultry feed industry – many of them are reluctant to invest in fertilizer because of the high entry costs. We therefore also investigated the profitability of growing maize under low and high (recommended) fertilizer regimens. Volumetric soil moisture at sowing and during the grain filling phase or at maturity indicated that there is ample supply of water in the profile. Most measurements were above the drained upper limit (DUL). We attributed this to the generally shallow water table depths, which never exceeded 2.75 m at any location, but generally stayed between 1–2 m depth throughout the season. The region's soil texture classes (clay loams, silt loams and silty clay loams) are all conducive for capillary rise of water into the rooting zone. Consequently, irrigation had a significant effect on maize yield in the driest winter only, whereas for wheat, it had no effect. The key for a successful maize and wheat production in the delta region of Bangladesh is to ensure a good crop establishment, which can be achieved with a starter and an additional irrigation at crown root initiation for wheat and at V6-8 for maize. Maize however is not always profitable. Compared to low fertilizer rates, higher rates reduced losses in low yielding site-years and increased profits in high-yielding site years. This indicates that it is advisable for farmers not to reduce fertilizer rates. Low-risk financial credit with rationally structured interest rates that allow farmers to invest in maize could potentially offset these constraints.

    On-farm trials as 'infection points'? a response to Wall et al.
    Andersson, J.A. ; Krupnik, T.J. ; Roo, N. De - \ 2019
    Experimental Agriculture 55 (2019)2. - ISSN 0014-4797 - p. 195 - 199.

    In their response to our paper on the problems of using on-farm trials in efforts to scale-out new crop production technologies and practices among smallholder farmers, Wall et al. (2018) focus on our descriptions of on-farm trials in just one of the three case studies of Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) projects that were presented. They argue we did not understand the projects' philosophy and that the biases in farmer and site selection we discussed, do not exist in the southern Africa case study.

    On-farm trials for development impact? the organisation of research and the scaling of agricultural technologies
    Roo, Nina de; Andersson, Jens A. ; Krupnik, Timothy J. - \ 2019
    Experimental Agriculture 55 (2019)2. - ISSN 0014-4797 - p. 163 - 184.
    Changes in donor priorities have meant that agronomists working in the tropics find themselves in a fundamentally new operational space, one that demands rapid improvements in farmers' livelihoods resulting from the large-scale adoption of new technologies and crop management practices. As a result, on-farm trials in contemporary Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) are increasingly implemented both to collect data and to spur farmer adoption. We examine the different interpretations and organisational practices of AR4D organisations in this new operational space, and reflect on the usefulness of on-farm trials for agricultural technology scaling. Three case studies are presented to address these questions – two in sub-Saharan Africa and one in South Asia. Each study is considered in light of Science and Technology Studies theory and locates science as a politically situated practice, recognising the tension that scientists face between providing evidence and persuading selected audiences. The case studies show that this tension results in the introduction of several biases that limit the scalability of the technologies under investigation. These include biases at the level of the trial location, host-farmer selection, trial design, management and evaluation. We conclude by discussing how the contemporary political and institutional environment of AR4D produces project beneficiaries and research outcomes on selected farms, but not necessarily impacts at scale.
    Application of a bias-corrected meta-frontier approach and an endogenous switching regression to analyze the technical efficiency of conservation tillage for wheat in South Asia
    Aravindakshan, Sreejith ; Rossi, Frederick ; Amjath-Babu, T.S. ; Veettil, Prakashan Chellattan ; Krupnik, Timothy J. - \ 2018
    Journal of Productivity Analysis 49 (2018)2-3. - ISSN 0895-562X - p. 153 - 171.
    Conservation tillage (CT) options are among the most rapidly spreading land preparation and crop establishment techniques globally. In South Asia, CT has spread dramatically over the last decade, a result of strong policy support and increasing availability of appropriate machinery. Although many studies have analyzed the yield and profitability of CT systems, the technical efficiency impacts accrued by farmers utilizing CT have received considerably less attention. Employing a DEA framework, we isolated bias-corrected meta-frontier technical efficiencies and meta-technology ratios of three CT options adopted by wheat farmers in Bangladesh, including bed planting (BP), power tiller operated seeding (PTOS), and strip tillage (ST), compared to a control group of farmers practicing traditional tillage (TT). Endogenous switching regression was subsequently employed to overcome potential self-selection bias in the choice of CT, in order to robustly estimate efficiency factors. Among the tillage options studied, PTOS was the most technically efficient, with an average meta-technology ratio of 0.90, followed by BP (0.88), ST (0.83), and TT (0.67). The average predicted meta-frontier technical efficiency for the CT non-adopters under a counterfactual scenario (0.80) was significantly greater (P = 0.00) than current TE scores (0.65), indicating the potential for sizeable profitability increases with CT adoption. Conversely, the counterfactual TE of non-adopters was 23% greater than their DEA efficiency, also indicating efficiency gains from CT adoption. Our results provide backing for agricultural development programs in South Asia that aim to increase smallholder farmers’ income through the application of CT as a pathway towards poverty reduction.
    Affordances of agricultural systems analysis tools : A review and framework to enhance tool design and implementation
    Ditzler, Lenora ; Klerkx, Laurens ; Chan-Dentoni, Jacqueline ; Posthumus, Helena ; Krupnik, Timothy J. ; Ridaura, Santiago López ; Andersson, Jens A. ; Baudron, Frédéric ; Groot, Jeroen C.J. - \ 2018
    Agricultural Systems 164 (2018). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 20 - 30.
    Bio-economic farm models - Farming systems analysis - Fuzzy cognitive mapping - Literature review - Role play and serious games - Stakeholder participation
    The increasingly complex challenges facing agricultural systems require problem-solving processes and systems analysis (SA) tools that engage multiple actors across disciplines. In this article, we employ the theory of affordances to unravel what tools may furnish users, and how those affordances contribute to a tool's usefulness in co-design and co-innovation processes. Affordance is defined as a function provided by an object through an interaction with a user. We first present a conceptual framework to assess the affordances of SA tools. This framework is then applied in a literature review of three SA tools used in agricultural systems research (fuzzy cognitive mapping, bio-economic whole-farm models, and role play and serious games). Through this exercise, we extend the SA tool design and implementation dialogue by illuminating (i) links between lower-level affordances, tool design, and heuristic functioning, and (ii) the central role of use setting and facilitation in mobilizing higher-level, productive affordances. Based on our findings, we make five propositions for how SA tool design and implementation in participatory problem-solving settings can be improved.
    Climatic variability and thermal stress in Pakistan's rice and wheat systems : A stochastic frontier and quantile regression analysis of economic efficiency
    Arshad, Muhammad ; Amjath-Babu, T.S. ; Aravindakshan, Sreejith ; Krupnik, Timothy J. ; Toussaint, Verena ; Kächele, Harald ; Müller, Klaus - \ 2018
    Ecological Indicators 89 (2018). - ISSN 1470-160X - p. 496 - 506.
    Climate change - Climate services - Economic efficiency - Quantile regression - Rice-wheat system - Stochastic frontier - Terminal heat stress
    South Asia is the world's most poverty-dense region, where climate change and climate variability are expected to result in increased heat stress and erratic precipitation patterns that affect agricultural productivity. Considerable evidence has been generated on the effects of these stresses on crop yield, though previous research has not yet examined their influence on the economic efficiency of cereal producers. Surveying 240 farmers across eight of Pakistan's twelve agro-ecological zones, we examined the impact of temperature and precipitation anomalies – as indicators of climatic variability – and the number of days when temperature exceeds crop specific heat stress thresholds on the economic efficiency of rice and wheat production. To this end, we employed first-stage stochastic production frontier (SPF) models and second-stage ordinary least square (OLS) and quantile regression models. Both OLS and quantile regressions indicated that terminal heat >34 °C has a significant negative impact on wheat production economic efficiency. Small positive deviation (0.54 °C ± 0.16 SD) of the wheat season's mean temperature from the medium-term historical mean also significantly and negatively affected economic efficiency across all regression models. Heat stress >35.5 °C during rice flowering in the monsoon also had a significant and negative impact. A slight positive deviation in temperature averaging 0.38 °C (±0.11 SD) above the medium-term mean also had significant negative effects across all regressions. Cumulative precipitation conversely had significant yet contrary effects, by offsetting farmers’ investment in supplementary irrigation and increasing economic efficiency. Our results highlight the fact that indicators of climatic variability and heat stress negatively affect the economic efficiency of both rice and wheat producing farmers. Farmers’ education and access to financial and extension services were however both positively associated with economic efficiency. Our findings point to the importance of developing interlinked agronomic, economic and socio-ecological policy strategies to adapt and increase the resilience of Pakistan's cereal systems to climatic variability.
    Climate variability, farmland value, and farmers’ perceptions of climate change : implications for adaptation in rural Pakistan
    Arshad, Muhammad ; Kächele, Harald ; Krupnik, Timothy J. ; Amjath-Babu, T.S. ; Aravindakshan, Sreejith ; Abbas, Azhar ; Mehmood, Yasir ; Müller, Klaus - \ 2017
    International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 24 (2017)6. - ISSN 1350-4509 - p. 532 - 544.
    adaptation - Climate change - land use - land valuation - Ricardian analysis - rural development - South Asia

    Many studies have examined the impact of climatic variability on agricultural productivity, although an understanding of these effects on farmland values and their relationship to farmers’ decisions to adapt and modify their land-use practices remains nascent in developing nations. We estimated the impacts of the deviation in our study year's (2012) temperature and precipitation patterns from medium-term (1980–2011) climatic patterns on farmland values in Pakistan. This was accomplished by employing a modified form of a Ricardian regression model. We also examined farmers’ perceptions of climate change during this period, as well as their perceptions of climate change impacts on farm productivity, in addition to past and anticipated farm adaptation strategies. Our results indicate that positive temperature deviation from the medium-term mean – indicative of climatic change – affects farmland values in Pakistan. Deviation in annual cumulative precipitation conversely appears to have no significant impact. Estimates of the marginal impact of temperature deviation suggested a slight but negative linear relationship with farmland values. The location of farms in areas where farmers can avail financial or extension services conversely had a positive impact on farmland values, as did the availability of irrigation facilities. Our analysis of farmers’ perceptions of climate change and their consequent adaptation behavior indicated a relatively high degree of awareness of climatic variability that influenced a number of proactive and future anticipated farm adaptation strategies. Examples included increased use of irrigation and farm enterprise diversification, as well as land-use change, including shifting from agriculture into alternative land uses. National policy in Pakistan underscores the importance of maintaining a productive rural agricultural sector. Our findings consequently highlight the importance of appropriate adaptation strategies to maintain both farm productivity and farmland values in much of Pakistan. The implications of increased extension and financial services to enhance farmers’ potential for climate change adaptation are discussed.

    Climate variability and yield risk in South Asia’s rice–wheat systems : emerging evidence from Pakistan
    Arshad, Muhammad ; Amjath-Babu, T.S. ; Krupnik, Timothy J. ; Aravindakshan, Sreejith ; Abbas, Azhar ; Kächele, Harald ; Müller, Klaus - \ 2017
    Paddy and Water Environment 15 (2017)2. - ISSN 1611-2490 - p. 249 - 261.
    Adaptive capacity - Climate change adaptation - Heat stress - Pakistan - Rice–wheat system - Yield risk
    Rice and wheat are the principal calorie sources for over a billion people in South Asia, although each crop is particularly sensitive to the climatic and agronomic management conditions under which they are grown. Season-long heat stress can reduce photosynthesis and accelerate senescence; if extreme heat stress is experienced during flowering, both rice and wheat may also experience decreased pollen viability and stigma deposition, leading to increased grain sterility. Where farmers are unable to implement within-season management adaptations, significant deviations from expected climatic conditions would affect crop growth, yield, and therefore have important implications for food security. The influence of climatic conditions on crop growth have been widely studied in growth chamber, greenhouse, and research station trials, although empirical evidence of the link between climatic variability and yield risk in farmers’ fields is comparatively scarce. Using data from 240 farm households, this paper responds to this gap and isolates the effects of agronomic management from climatic variability on rice and wheat yield risks in eight of Pakistan’s twelve agroecological zones. Using Just and Pope production functions, we tested for the effects of crop management practices and climatic conditions on yield and yield variability for each crop. Our results highlight important risks to farmers’ ability to obtain reliable yield levels for both crops. Despite variability in input use and crop management, we found evidence for the negative effect of both season-long and terminal heat stress, measured as the cumulative number of days during which crop growth occurred above critical thresholds, though wheat was considerably more sensitive than rice. Comparing variation in observed climatic parameters in the year of study to medium-term patterns, rice, and wheat yields were both negatively affected, indicative of production risk and of farmers’ limited capacity for within-season adaptation. Our findings suggest the importance of reviewing existing climate change adaptation policies that aim to increase cereal farmers’ resilience in Pakistan, and more broadly in South Asia. Potential agronomic and extension strategies are proposed for further investigation.
    Climate change and indicators of probable shifts in the consumption portfolios of dryland farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa : Implications for policy
    Amjath-Babu, T.S. ; Krupnik, Timothy J. ; Aravindakshan, Sreejith ; Arshad, Muhammad ; Kaechele, Harald - \ 2016
    Ecological Indicators 67 (2016). - ISSN 1470-160X - p. 830 - 838.
    Climate change - Consumption - Human development - Secondary impacts - Uncertainty

    Several studies estimate the immediate impact of climate change on agricultural societies in terms of changes in crop yields or farm income, though few studies concentrate on the immediate secondary consequences of climate change. This synthetic analysis uses a set of indicators to assess the repercussions of predicted income reductions resulting from climate change on food consumption, nutrition, health expenditure, education, and recreation in Zimbabwe, Cameroon, South Africa and Ethiopia. We also assess the potential decline in human development potential among smallholder dryland farmers in these sub-Saharan African countries. In contrast to previous efforts, the current study directly integrates the uncertainties in estimations of income changes and secondary consequences through a weighting scheme. The results reveal moderate to high levels of secondary impacts which could lead to increased vulnerability to diseases, susceptibility to nutritional disorders, deprivation of educational opportunities, and ultimately to a reduction in human and societal development potential among the considered nations. The article concludes by proposing a portfolio of policy options for ameliorating the secondary impacts of climate change in these sub-Saharan African countries.

    Transitioning to groundwater irrigated intensified agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: An indicator based assessment
    Amjath, Amjath Babu ; Krupnik, T.J. ; Kaechele, Harald ; Aravindakshan, S. ; Sietz, D. - \ 2016
    Agricultural Water Management 168 (2016). - ISSN 0378-3774 - p. 125 - 135.
    Growing populations, changing market conditions, and the food security risks posed by rainfed cropping and climate change collectively indicate that Sub-Saharan African nations could benefit from transforming agricultural production to more intensive yet resilient and sustainable systems. Although highly underutilized, emerging evidence indicates that groundwater may be more widely available than previously thought, highlighting its potential role in facilitating such a transformation. Nevertheless, the possibility for such a transition is conditioned by number of complex factors. We therefore construct a transition index that integrates data considering groundwater and energy availability and cost, market access, infrastructural needs, farm conditions and natural resource stocks, labor availability, climate, population density, as well as economic and political framework variables, using a principal component analysis based methodology. Using the consequent multi-dimensional transition index and constituent intermediate indices, we provide an assessment of groundwater irrigation potential discussed in consideration of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia, Namibia, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe. Our results, though preliminary, provide a methodology for conducting such an integrated assessment, while deriving a holistic set of policy options considering the transition towards appropriate use of groundwater for agricultural development.
    Greenhouse gases emission efficiency of alternative tillage practices in wheat farming systems of Bangladesh
    Aravindakshan, S. ; Tittonell, P.A. ; Krupnik, T.J. ; Scholberg, J.M.S. ; Groot, J.C.J. ; Rossi, F. - \ 2015
    What does benchmarking of wheat farmers practicing conservation tillage in the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains tell us about energy use efficiency? An application of slack-based data envelopment analysis
    Aravindakshan, S. ; Rossi, F.J. ; Krupnik, T.J. - \ 2015
    Energy 90 (2015)1. - ISSN 0360-5442 - p. 483 - 493.
    Escalating energy costs are an increasing concern for South Asian farmers growing rice and wheat in rotation. Millions of people in the IGP (Indo-Gangetic Plains) depend on this cropping system for food and income security. CT (conservation tillage) practices, including mechanical BP (bed planting), PTOS (power-tiller operated seeding), and ST (strip tillage), are advocated by donors and development organizations as profitable, high yielding, and energy-efficient alternatives to TT (traditional tillage). However, most studies on the EUE (energy input use efficiency) of CT originate from researcher-controlled and on-station experiments. Comparatively little information is available on the EUE of CT practices as farmers apply them in their own fields, and under their own management decisions. This research responds to this gap, and analyzes EUE of each of these three CT options, compared to TT, by surveying 328 rice-wheat farmers in north-western Bangladesh. Concentrating on wheat production, we employed a non-parametric benchmarking technique involving slack-based measures of technical efficiency, along with a fractional regression model to identify and compute the wasteful use of energy. PTOS achieved the highest EUE score (0.92), followed closely by BP and ST (both 0.91), whereas TT (0.68) was significantly (p <0.001) different and lower than the CT practices.
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