Theory of responses in cropland

Authors: Constantinos Kosmas, Katerina Kounalaki, Mina Karamesouti, Giovanni Quaranta, Rosanna Salvia, Honghu Liu, Artemio Cerda, Michiel Curfs, Anton Imeson

Editor's note 10Sept12: Source D711-7.1 To be reviewed when D10 and D113 are available. Eleni - the text of this category introduction cannot be edited from the front end. You need to copy and paste into a word document, make the corrections using track changes and email it to Jane.

Critical global natural resources, especially soil and water, are subjected to great pressures, due to increasing demands of growing populations, and they are highly degraded in many areas of the world indicating the importance of restoration. The ensuing loss of ecosystem resilience generates severe impacts on ecosystem functions. The selected cropland study sites are typical examples of man-induced pressure on these critical natural resources for long periods that have resulted in loss of important ecosystem services.

The review covered the existing knowledge on LEDD issues in cropland and their main drivers worldwide, at the national level and at the study site level. The main past and current processes of land degradation are: (a) soil erosion, (b) chemical contamination of soil and water, (c) physical deterioration of soils, (d) secondary salinization of irrigated land, and (e) land desertification. All these processes have adversely affected crop production.

The contemporary drivers affecting the various responses to LEDD have been distinguished according to the scale of influence as: (a) global-scale drivers, (b) country-scale drivers, and (c) local-scale drivers. The main global-scale drivers affecting agriculture around the world are: (a) international trade and globalization of markets, (b) low world prices, (c) high energy prices, and (d) agricultural policies promoted by developed countries. The most important country-scale drivers considered as globally important and affecting cropland and land use change are: (a) agricultural per capita income and urbanization, (b) changing market chains, and (c) shifts in public policies. Local-scale drivers are specific to each local geographical area and type of agricultural production system. Some of the most important local-scale drivers are: (a) poverty, (b) population pressure, (c) technology design, (d) property rights, (e) infrastructure and (f) market access. The drivers of change of global food and agricultural production are becoming more complex and more unpredictable.

The complex adaptive systems paradigm has been adopted for the analysis of land and ecosystem degradation and desertification (LEDD) and of the responses to LEDD in cropland. The first draft of the theory of responses to LEDD in cropland based on the three capitals, namely natural, social, and economic (proposed in WP4) has been introduced for the study of responses to LEDD at the study sites. The aim is to investigate, guided by the LEDDRA conceptual framework (developed in WP7), how the complex interactions between the three capitals (economic, social, and natural) influence and shape the human responses to LEDD in cropland in highly varying cultural settings.

 

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2014-11-28 10:49:11