Do smallholder, mixed crop-livestock livelihoods encourage sustainable agricultural practices? A meta-analysis
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Rudel, Thomas K.; Kwon, Oh-Jung; Paul, Birthe K.; Boval, Maryline; Rao, Idupulapati Madhusudana; Burbano, Diana; McGroddy, Megan; Lerner, Amy M.; White, Douglas; Cuchillo, Mario; Peters, Michael. 2016. Do smallholder, mixed crop-livestock livelihoods encourage sustainable agricultural practices? A meta-analysis. Land 5(1), 6.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/70959
As calls for bolstering environmental services on croplands have grown more insistent during the past two decades, the search for ways to foster sustainable, reduced input agriculture has become more urgent. In this context we re-examine by means of a meta-analysis the argument, first proposed by Robert McC. Netting, that small scale, mixed crop – livestock farming, a common livelihood among poor rural peoples, encourages environmentally sustainable agricultural practices. As predicted, mixed crop – livestock farms exhibit more sustainable practices, but, contrary to predictions, a small scale of operation does not predict sustainability. Unsustainable practices occur on small farms characterized by degrading, input scarce agriculture and on large farms characterized by industrialized, high chemical input agriculture. Sustainable practices occur on small farms that mix crops with livestock production, and they occur on large farms characterized by minimum tillage. The strength and pervasiveness of the link between mixed crop –livestock farming and sustainable agricultural practices in both developed and developing countries argues for agricultural policies that promote mixed crop – livestock livelihoods.