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Sustainable agriculture: From global challenges to local land management
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8016-814X
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Despite the success of agriculture management practices in increasing the availability of food needed to meet the requirements of the expanding global population, there are increasing demands placed on the resources on which the sector depends. Opportunities for the development of agricultural systems are constrained by increasing competition, from other sectors, for shared resources. In tackling this constraint, agricultural management solutions are often narrowly focused on problems related to single resources. But this single focus may lead to unintended trade-offs. To make sound management decisions, there is a need to better understand trade-offs which may occur from resource use efficiency solutions implemented in the agricultural sector. With a particular focus on soil and water resources, the aim of this thesis was to investigate trade-offs that occur, when meeting demands placed on agriculture systems, if management solutions are narrowly focused. Broadly, we hypothesize that approaches to land management that take a more holistic view of agricultural systems being part of an ecosystem mosaic should be adopted to ensure sustainability. A global assessment of potential land requirements shows that national level production of sufficiently nutritious food may be constrained by land availability, such that allocation of land to nutritious crop production might come at the cost of lost land for other crops or uses. This constraint will be the most prevalent in African states. In further studies, we focused on the management of water resources, which are becoming particularly limiting for crops that have high water demands, such as rice. Through a meta-analysis of paired plot experiments, which assessed the effect of water saving irrigation in rice production, and soil sampling within An Giang, a major rice producing province of Vietnam, we examined the effect of water management practices on soil properties. The meta-analysis finds that significant reductions in soil organic carbon, and potentially organic matter bound nutrients, have been observed when water efficient practices replace continual flood irrigation. This suggests that, although yield reductions may not be seen in the short term, water saving irrigation may, over time, lead to reductions in soil fertility and yields. Within An Giang province, there are concerns regarding the loss of flood-borne, nutrient rich, sediments in fields where the annual flood waters have been completely regulated. However, we find that this complete regulation does not result in reduced soil nutrient properties when compared to areas where floods are only partially regulated. The effect of different land management practices on soil properties were further explored within the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. Comparing farming practices along a gradient of intensity, we found contrasting effects of irrigation and fertilization, with irrigation increasing soil organic carbon and fertilization reducing soil organic carbon. Overall, the results of this thesis highlight the importance of looking beyond meeting short term needs, which can have negative long term consequences. The success of land management practices implemented now do not, necessarily, equate to their continued success in the future. As demands placed on agriculture are going to increase, the long term trade-offs which may occur from present practices must be at the forefront of agricultural management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University , 2021. , p. 38
Series
Dissertations in Physical Geography, ISSN 2003-2358 ; 16
Keywords [en]
agriculture, irrigation, nutrients, soil properties, water management, fertilisation
National Category
Soil Science Agricultural Science Physical Geography
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-195742ISBN: 978-91-7911-554-8 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7911-555-5 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-195742DiVA, id: diva2:1587734
Public defence
2021-10-08, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14 and online via Zoom, https://stockholmuniversity.zoom.us/j/66045807129, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2021-09-15 Created: 2021-08-25 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Nutritional adequacy from the perspective of land footprints - Past achievements and future challenges
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Nutritional adequacy from the perspective of land footprints - Past achievements and future challenges
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Total food production has increased at rates sufficient to ensure the provision of calories to the global community, but the need to also increase production of nutrients essential to human diet is now recognized. However, little has been done to contextualize agricultural production in terms of future nutrient demands and environmental limitations to production. To address this knowledge gap, we assessed changes in land use requirements to achieve both historical production adequacy and future needs given projected population change. Changes in land use requirements were assessed for calories, protein, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C, here termed components of nutrition (CN). This was done with reference to historical agricultural areas, and also land suitability for agriculture. We found that achievement of global production adequacy for all CNs masked local challenges. While counties such as China and the USA have been able to improve production of all CNs, other countries have had less success. Future projected increases in population will further limit production of sufficient CNs, with African states being the most constrained. In these states, at present yield levels and with the current composition of production systems, land area requirements would be greater than the present and even the potential agricultural area. This highlights the need for more diversified production systems which consider the production of all CNs.

National Category
Other Agricultural Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-195738 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2016-06313Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, 2015-000032
Available from: 2021-08-25 Created: 2021-08-25 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved
2. Do alternative irrigation strategies for rice cultivation decrease water footprints at the cost of long-term soil health?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Do alternative irrigation strategies for rice cultivation decrease water footprints at the cost of long-term soil health?
Show others...
2019 (English)In: Environmental Research Letters, E-ISSN 1748-9326, Vol. 14, no 7, article id 074011Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The availability of water is a growing concern for flooded rice production. As such, several water-saving irrigation practices have been developed to reduce water requirements. Alternate wetting and drying and mid-season drainage have been shown to potentially reduce water requirements while maintaining rice yields when compared to continuous flooding. With the removal of permanently anaerobic conditions during the growing season, water-saving irrigation can also reduce CO2 equivalent (CO2eq) emissions, helping reduce the impact of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the long-term impact of water-saving irrigation on soil organic carbon (SOC)-used here as an indicator of soil health and fertility-has not been explored. We therefore conducted a meta-analysis to assess the effects of common water-saving irrigation practices (alternate wetting and drying and mid-season drainage) on (i) SOC, and (ii) GHG emissions. Despite an extensive literature search, only 12 studies were found containing data to constrain the soil C balance in both continuous flooding and water-saving irrigation plots, highlighting the still limited understanding of long-term impacts of water-saving irrigation on soil health and GHG emissions. Water-saving irrigation was found to reduce emissions of CH4 by 52.3% and increased those of CO2 by 44.8%. CO2eq emissions were thereby reduced by 18.6% but the soil-to-atmosphere carbon (C) flux increased by 25% when compared to continuous flooding. Water-saving irrigation was also found to have a negative effect on both SOC-reducing concentrations by 5.2%-and soil organic nitrogen-potentially depleting stocks by more than 100 kgN/ha per year. While negative effects of water-saving irrigation on rice yield may not be visible in short-term experiments, care should be taken when assessing the long-term sustainability of these irrigation practices because they can decrease soil fertility. Strategies need to be developed for assessing the more long-term effects of these irrigation practices by considering trade-offs between water savings and other ecosystem services.

Keywords
alternate wetting and drying, mid-season drainage, soil organic carbon, rice, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-170786 (URN)10.1088/1748-9326/ab2108 (DOI)000474419000006 ()
Available from: 2019-07-22 Created: 2019-07-22 Last updated: 2024-01-17Bibliographically approved
3. Floods, soil and food – Interactions between water management and rice production within An Giang province, Vietnam
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Floods, soil and food – Interactions between water management and rice production within An Giang province, Vietnam
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2021 (English)In: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, ISSN 0167-8809, E-ISSN 1873-2305, Vol. 320, article id 107589Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Rapid intensification of Vietnamese rice production has had a positive effect on the nation's food production and economy. However, the sustainability of intensive rice production is increasingly being questioned within Vietnam, particularly in major agricultural provinces such as An Giang. The construction of high dykes within this province, which allow for complete regulation of water onto rice fields, has enabled farmers to grow up to three rice crops per year. However, the profitability of producing three crops is rapidly decreasing as farmers increase their use of chemical fertilizer inputs and pesticides. Increased fertilizer inputs are partly used to replace natural flood-borne, nutrient-rich sediment inputs that have been inhibited by the dykes, but farmers believe that despite this, soil health within the dyke system is degrading. However, the effects of the dykes on soil properties have not been tested. Therefore, a sampling campaign was conducted to assess differences in soil properties caused by the construction of dykes. The results show that, under present fertilization practices, although dykes may inhibit flood-borne sediments, this does not lead to a systematic reduction in nutrients that typically limit rice growth within areas producing three crops per year. Concentrations of total nitrogen, available phosphorous, and both total and available potassium, and pH were higher in the surface layer of soils of three crop areas when compared to two crop areas. This suggests that yield declines may be caused by other factors related to the construction of dykes and the use of chemical inputs, and that care should be taken when attempting to maintain crop yields. Attempting to compensate for yield declines by increasing fertilizer inputs may ultimately have negative effects on yields.

Keywords
An Giang, Rice, Intensification, Soil properties, Soil nutrients, Water management
National Category
Agricultural Science
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-195512 (URN)10.1016/j.agee.2021.107589 (DOI)000691679600003 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2016-06313
Available from: 2021-08-19 Created: 2021-08-19 Last updated: 2022-08-20Bibliographically approved
4. Soil Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus Contents along a Gradient of Agricultural Intensity in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Soil Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus Contents along a Gradient of Agricultural Intensity in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania
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2020 (English)In: Land, E-ISSN 2073-445X, Vol. 9, no 4, article id 121Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The preservation of soils which provide many important services to society is a pressing global issue. This is particularly the case in countries like Tanzania, which will experience rapid population growth over coming decades. The country is also currently experiencing rapid land-use change and increasing intensification of its agricultural systems to ensure sufficient food production. However, little is known regarding what the long term effects of this land use change will be, especially concerning soil quality. Therefore, we assessed the effect of irrigation and fertilization in agricultural systems, going from low intensity smallholder to high intensity commercial production, on soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), and total phosphorous (TP) concentrations and stocks. Soil sampling was conducted within Kilombero Plantations Ltd. (KPL), a high intensity commercial farm located in Kilombero, Tanzania, and also on surrounding smallholder farms, capturing a gradient of agricultural intensity. We found that irrigation had a positive effect on SOC concentrations and stocks while fertilization had a negative effect. Rain-fed non-fertilized production had no effect on soil properties when compared to native vegetation. No difference was found in concentrations of TN or TP across the intensity gradient. However, TN stocks were significantly larger in the surface soils (0-30 cm) of the most intensive production system when compared to native vegetation and smallholder production.

Keywords
soil organic carbon, agricultural intensity, nitrogen, phosphorous, irrigation, fertilization
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-182896 (URN)10.3390/land9040121 (DOI)000533901100006 ()
Available from: 2020-07-01 Created: 2020-07-01 Last updated: 2023-02-06Bibliographically approved

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