Sustainable small-scale agriculture in semi-arid environments

Katherine A. Spielmann, Margaret Nelson, Scott Ingram, Matthew Peeples

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

For at least the past 8000 years, small-scale farmers in semi-arid environments have had to mitigate shortfalls in crop production due to variation in precipitation and stream flow. To reduce their vulnerability to a shortfall in their food supply, small-scale farmers developed short-term strategies, including storage and community-scale sharing, to mitigate inter-annual variation in crop production, and long-term strategies, such as migration, to mitigate the effects of sustained droughts. We use the archaeological and paleoclimatic records from A.D. 900-1600 in two regions of the American Southwest to explore the nature of variation in the availability of water for crops, and the strategies that enhanced the resilience of prehistoric agricultural production to climatic variation. Drawing on information concerning contemporary small-scale farming in semi-arid environments, we then suggest that the risk coping and mitigation strategies that have endured for millennia are relevant to enhancing the resilience of contemporary farmers' livelihoods to environmental and economic perturbations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEcology and Society
Volume16
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011

Fingerprint

arid environment
crop production
agriculture
food supply
agricultural production
annual variation
streamflow
vulnerability
mitigation
drought
perturbation
crop
economics
water
effect
livelihood

Keywords

  • Adaptive strategy
  • Archaeology
  • Climate
  • Risk
  • Semi-arid environments
  • Small-scale farming
  • U.S. southwest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

Sustainable small-scale agriculture in semi-arid environments. / Spielmann, Katherine A.; Nelson, Margaret; Ingram, Scott; Peeples, Matthew.

In: Ecology and Society, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Spielmann, KA, Nelson, M, Ingram, S & Peeples, M 2011, 'Sustainable small-scale agriculture in semi-arid environments', Ecology and Society, vol. 16, no. 1.
Spielmann, Katherine A. ; Nelson, Margaret ; Ingram, Scott ; Peeples, Matthew. / Sustainable small-scale agriculture in semi-arid environments. In: Ecology and Society. 2011 ; Vol. 16, No. 1.
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