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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Case Study of Land Degradation Linking Biophysical and Socioeconomic Aspects of Agroecological Production Systems in Southern Honduras

item Ayarza, M. - CIAT
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Huber-Sannwald, E. - IPICYT
item Reynolds, J. - DUKE UNIV

Submitted to: Global Environmental Change
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 12, 2006
Publication Date: November 9, 2006
Citation: Ayarza, M., Herrick, J.E., Huber-Sannwald, E., Reynolds, J.F. 2006. ARIDnet: A case study of land degradation linking biophysical and socioeconomic aspects of agroecological production systems in southern Honduras [abstract]. Global Environmental Change: Regional Challenges. An Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) Open Science Conference, Beijing, China, November 9-12, 2006. ESSP OSP Abstracts, p. 661.

Technical Abstract: The Dahlem Desertification Protocol (DDP) was developed to analyze interrelationships within coupled human-environment systems. In this study, we apply the DDP to humid systems through an evaluation of an innovative agroecological production system in the mountains of southern Honduras, where seasonal droughts, tillage and crop residue removal have resulted in increased runoff and erosion. The agricultural land degradation found here is typical of that throughout Latin America. The Quesungual Slash and Mulch Agroforestry System (QSMAS) system is based on the management of dispersed native trees in cropped fields through pruning. Competition is minimized while crop residues are retained, promoting soil moisture and fertility conservation. Annual crops are planted on unburned fields with zero tillage. This system enables farmers to increase yields and reduce labor inputs associated with weed control. In addition, the widespread adoption of QSMAS is associated with strong participation of local communities in the development of the system and the implementation of local policies to avoid use of fire for agricultural purposes. We report the results of a recent ARIDnet workshop in which the QSMAS approach was examined in the context of the DDP. We concluded that currently application of QSMAS by more than 6,000 farmer households effectively addresses many of the socioeconomic and biophysical drivers associated with land degradation in this region. However, the analysis also indicated that further modification of the system will be required to extend it to other regions, and to address continuing changes in socioeconomic drivers.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014