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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: How does smallholder farming practice and environmental awareness vary across village communities in the karst terrain of southwest China?
Author(s): Oliver, David M
Zheng, Ying
Naylor, Larissa A
Murtagh, Madeleine
Waldron, Susan
Peng, Tao
Keywords: Environmental awareness
Farmer surveys
Karst critical zone
Knowledge exchange
Soil and water management
Issue Date: 1-Feb-2020
Citation: Oliver DM, Zheng Y, Naylor LA, Murtagh M, Waldron S & Peng T (2020) How does smallholder farming practice and environmental awareness vary across village communities in the karst terrain of southwest China?. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 288, Art. No.: 106715.
Abstract: Worldwide, karst terrain is highly sensitive to human activity due to extensive areas of thin soil and rapid water flow to groundwater. In the southwest China karst region, poor farming decisions can promote land degradation and reduce water quality with negative consequences for livelihoods in a region where farmers already suffer from the highest national poverty rates. Targeting management advice to farmers through knowledge exchange and decision support can help alleviate land use impacts on the karst environment but first requires baseline knowledge of how local farming communities understand and approach soil and water management. We used a catchment-wide survey (n = 312 individuals in seven villages) to investigate differences in environmental awareness, catchment understanding, and farming practices amongst farmers and community leaders in a typical karst catchment in southwest China. Age, gender and village of residence of farmers showed an association with the type of challenges perceived to be most serious. Access to labour, issues of water quantity and/or quality affecting irrigation, and fertiliser costs were recognised as being particularly problematic for the viability of farming. Sources of information used to learn about farming practices, the environment and fertiliser use were more diverse for younger (< 40 yr old) farmers and levels of training and acquired knowledge regarding land management practices varied significantly between villages in the catchment. The identification of significant associations between villages or sample demographics, and a variety of questions designed to understand farmer attitudes and their environmental awareness, provide clearer insight upon which knowledge exchange and training programmes can be co-designed with catchment stakeholders. This has the potential to lead to improved farming practices with co-benefits for farmers and the environment; helping sustain ecosystem services for impoverished communities in fragile karst ecosystems.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.106715
Rights: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. You are not required to obtain permission to reuse this article.
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