Targeting Landscapes to Identify Mitigation Options in Smallholder Agriculture

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This chapter presents a method for targeting landscapes with the objective of assessing mitigation options for smallholder agriculture. It presents alternatives in terms of the degree of detail and complexity of the analysis, to match the requirement of research and development initiatives. We address heterogeneity in land-use decisions that is linked to the agroecological characteristics of the landscape and to the social and economic profiles of the land users. We believe that as projects implement this approach, and more data become available, the method will be refined to reduce costs and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of mitigation in smallholder agriculture. The approach is based on the assumption that landscape classifications reflect differences in land productivity and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and can be used to scale up point or field-level measurements. At local level, the diversity of soils and land management can be meaningfully summarized using a suitable typology. Field types reflecting small-scale fertility gradients are correlated to land quality, land productivity and quite likely to GHG emissions. A typology can be a useful tool to connect farmers’ fields to landscape units because it represents the inherent quality of the land and human-induced changes, and connects the landscape to the existing socioeconomic profiles of smallholders. The method is explained using a smallholder system from western Kenya as an example.

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