Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
217R: The role of farm size for food security, environmental sustainability, and social justice
Friday, 26/Apr/2019:
3:00pm - 4:15pm

Session Chair: Vincent Ricciardi
Session Chair: Christian Levers
Session Chair: Jordan Blake Graesser
Session Chair: Navin Ramankutty
Location: MB-101
Main Building, room 101, 1st floor, east wing, 80 (+14) seats
Session Topics:
What do people want from land?

Session Abstract

Farm size is often assumed to be linked to environmental, economic, and human wellbeing, yet its spatial patterns and socio-environmental characteristics remain weakly understood. It is unclear how much food farms of varying size actually produce in different regions of the world, and how much they contribute to food security. Further, knowledge about the management intensity of farms along size gradients remains unclear. Though case studies suggest an inverse relationship between farm size and productivity, the causes are still debated and not usually assessed for field size gradients. In addition, several scholars suggest that small farms are more socially and environmentally sustainable than large farms, as they disturb less area of natural ecosystems, have more resilient production systems, and maintain intergenerational economic welfare and biodiversity. These claims are rarely quantitatively supported by typically rest on case study evidence. Further, field size is an important element to assess landscape configuration, can indicate mechanized or monocultural production in agriculture, and may provide a needed proxy for farm size where quality data is limited. Yet, there is hardly any empirical knowledge about relationship between farm and field size, particularly for larger spatial extents. This session will focus on size-related characteristics of agricultural farms and fields worldwide, especially how size in global agriculture relates to environmental impacts, social justice, production and productivity, as well as how it could/should be addressed in policy making. It will feed into ongoing debates about globalization, land reforms and land grabbing, sustainable agriculture, agricultural transition, and smallholder support. We welcome contributions that address questions such as: What is the empirical relation between farm and field size? What factors determine the occurrence of larger or smaller farms and fields or their shifts in scale? How much food is produced along farm and field size gradients? Are larger farms and fields managed at higher intensities? Are smaller farms and fields more environmentally friendly? Do larger farms contribute more to food security than smaller farms? Why does scale matter in farming and how this scale of farming can be a useful perspective for policy makers? What kinds of policy support are needed for farmers operating on different scales? In how far can size be related to inequity and food insecurity? How do farm and field size link to socio-economic dynamics? How comparable are findings of different world regions?

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Full talk
ID: 367 / 217R: 1
217R The role of farm and field size for food security, environmental sustainability, and social justice

Smaller farms are consistently higher yielding and biodiverse than large farms: A meta-analysis

Vincent Ricciardi1,2, Zia Mehrabi1,2, Hannah Wittman1, Dana James1, Navin Ramankutty1,2

1Instituture for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Canada; 2School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, Canada

The scale of agricultural production is rapidly changing. While there has been much discussion on the political drivers of these trends, we know little about the socio-economic and environmental impacts of these large-scale land transitions. Through a meta-analysis of existing empirical case studies, we assess the relationships between farm size and key economic, social, and environmental outcomes across a range of geographies. We find that smaller farms have greater yields and biodiversity; yet, there was no relationship between farm size and resource efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, or profitability. Our results also highlight how different socio-ecological contexts influence these relationships.

Full talk
ID: 870 / 217R: 2
213R Land tenure (security) and land use (change)
Keywords: Land tenure security, sustainable agricultural practices, chaco salteño

Land tenure (in)security and investment in sustainable agricultural practices by small-scale farmers in the Chaco Salteño

Maurice Tschopp1, Graziano Ceddia1, Nick Bardsley2, Carla Inguaggiato1

1CDE / Unibe, Switzerland; 2School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading

Recently, the Argentinian Chaco has experienced profound transformations of land use and land governance, often at the expense of indigenous communities and smallholders. Small-scale “criollos” farmers rely on livestock herding within the Chaco forest as their main livelihood. They are however threatened by the advances of the agricultural frontier and the deforestation process. Large-scale soy plantations, as well as cattle companies are the primary drivers of this land-use change and have contributed significantly to deforestation in recent years. This has caused displacement of indigenous communities and small-scale criollos cattle farmers, with consequent increased pressure on remaining forests. Most smallholders do not have formal land titles, and are often “occupying” privately owned lands, and are hence under the threat of being evicted. On the other hand, a minority of smallholders does possess formal land rights, or have signed an agreement with the landlords.

This paper will address the complex relationship between land tenure security and investment in sustainable land use practices by smallholders. We will present results from a household survey conducted with smallholders from the Chaco salteño (n=550), as well as different statistical models (multinomial logit and probit models) that explore the influence of land tenure security on investments in “sustainable“ agricultural practices by smallholders. Other explanatory variables considered in the models include the socio-economic profiles of the household (e.g. education and income), social capital and current conflicts over access to land, as well as adoptions choices of their network of family and friends.

An extensive literature claims that land tenure security oftentimes corresponds to higher investments by farmers, including in sustainable agricultural practices. We discuss whether the land tenure security hypothesis is verified in the case of the Chaco salteño. Further, we highlight potential obstacles for the recognition of land rights of smallholders and discuss why there are so few smallholders that are involved in a land recognition process. We conclude by showing how these two issues have to be addressed together in the current debate on land use change and sustainable management of native forests.

Full talk
ID: 859 / 217R: 3
304R Transformative adaptation for land systems: ecosystem services in pathways of adaptation to global change
Keywords: food security, vulnerability, adaptation, land systems, drylands

Measuring household food security and variability in land functions across communities in a semiarid savanna system

Forrest R. Stevens1, Andrea E. Gaughan1, Narcisa Pricope2, Jonathan D. Salerno3, Joel Hartter4, Lin Cassidy5, Michael Drake4, Ariel Weaver1, Nicholas Kolarik1, Steele Olsen2, Bradshaw Amelia2, Kyle Woodward2

1University of Louisville, United States of America; 2University of North Carolina Wilmington; 3Colorado State University; 4University of Colorado Boulder; 5Lin Cassidy Consulting

Variability and change in land functions represent a significant source of exposure for households that are heavily dependent on agriculture, grazing, and natural resource gathering. Land uses interact with land cover in multifaceted ways, producing a diverse array of land functions that households are exposed and sensitive to. Our research quantifies spatial and temporal aspects of that intersection with household vulnerability as measured by food security, and as it is mediated by access to various livelihood capitals. We use a generalized model of household vulnerability, organized under a socio-ecological systems framework, and operationalize it using a combination of multispectral and multitemporal analyses of remotely-sensed data merged with data from 721 household surveys. These surveys were conducted in communities in Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia, and are contained within the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area of southern Africa. Using this model we show how estimates of vegetation structure, composition, and dynamics from different resource sheds may link to variation in food security at the household level, after taking into account household-, community-, and country-level factors that may mediate food insecurities. By focusing on aspects of land functions, which are at the heart of land systems and their changing dynamics, we address an important component of household vulnerability in these rural contexts. We discuss the implications of this conceptual framing as it relates to remotely-sensed and other biophysical data across various scales, for measuring and monitoring land functions, and their incorporation into coupled human-environment research. We also address potential interventions that might affect household food security in this region in the future.

Full talk
ID: 647 / 217R: 4
101R Trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes
Keywords: land-use change, social-ecological system, resilience, agricultural extensification, agent-based model

Understanding agricultural extensification: assessing the effect of external drivers on trade-offs and tipping-points in intensive and extensive agriculture

Maarten J. van Strien, Sibyl H. Huber, Adrienne Grêt-Regamey

ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Agricultural extensification is beneficial for biodiversity. The decision of farmers to intensify or extensify their production depends on, among others, a range of external drivers, such as agricultural direct payments, prices for agricultural produce or climate. In complex social-ecological systems (SESs), it is difficult to understand how changes in these drivers will influence the area of intensive or extensive agriculture. However, the direction of change in these land uses can be predicted if one knows the equilibrium states of intensive and extensive agriculture in a SES (i.e. a system is in equilibrium if, all things being equal, the state of the system is constant over time). The direction of change is either towards (i.e. stable equilibrium) or away from (i.e. unstable equilibrium) these equilibria. Changes in external drivers can affect the equilibrium states. For instance, a small change in direct payments could trigger a shift from agricultural intensification to extensification, or vice versa (i.e. tipping-points). In our study, we developed a generic approach to identify stable and unstable equilibria in the states of a SES. We identified equilibria in intensive and extensive agriculture and assessed their sensitivity to the above external drivers. Our case-study region was an alpine mountain region in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland. Land-use change in this region was simulated with an agent-based land-use model. We ran this model iteratively for different initial system states and driver levels. With vector-field plots and support vector machine classifications, we identified an unstable equilibrium in intensive agriculture, whereas extensive agriculture showed a stable equilibrium. The external drivers had a strong influence on the equilibrium states. We also found that a minimum amount of direct payments was necessary for agricultural extensification to take place. The developed approach provides valuable insights into furthering agricultural extensification in our case-study region.

Flash talk
ID: 602 / 217R: 5
350N Social-ecological outcomes of shifting cultivation in transition ((INVITED ABSTRACTS ONLY) )

Relationship between land and labour for sustainable development in india

Sarda Prasad

Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

Agrarian communities consist of cultivators and agriculture laborers and this paper is focusing on demographic changes and its impacts on agriculture and on analyzing food availability, accessibility and affordability among the mass. Based on primary and secondary data I found that quantitatively food availability is sufficient, but food accessibility and affordability are the main challenge for the government. Cultivators are turning into agriculture labour, and most of the farmers are not interested on agricultural works due to labour shortage, input cost, productivity and marketing mechanism and price. Cost benefit ratio is negatively related and mechanization is increasing.

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