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Application of a simulation model for assessing integration of smallholder shifting cultivation and sheep production in Yucatán, Mexico

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Parsons, D and Nicholson, CF and Blake, RW and Ketterings, QM and Ramirez-Aviles, L and Cherney, JH and Fox, DG (2011) Application of a simulation model for assessing integration of smallholder shifting cultivation and sheep production in Yucatán, Mexico. Agricultural Systems, 104 (1). pp. 13-19.

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Abstract

Simulation models are effective tools to examine interactions between livestock, cropping systems, households, and natural resources. Our study objective was to use an integrated livestock and crop model to assess the outcomes from selected suites of management decisions observed in smallholder sheep-cropping systems of Yucatán, Mexico. The scenarios contrasted specialized systems versus mixed farming, and evaluated the outcomes of increased crop–livestock integration. Mixed enterprise scenarios involving sheep provided more income than specialized enterprises, and capitalized on a lower price of on-farm maize grain, efficient utilization of surplus labor, and availability of common land. Labor and management income was greatest for the unintegrated and partially integrated crop and livestock scenarios. It was more profitable for producers to sell excess grain and maize stover, and use common land to feed the livestock, suggesting that increased integration does not always result in improved outcomes. The results are consistent with a system not yet pushed to the point where integration is inevitable. For all sets of scenarios, the model structure was able to accommodate subtle management differences to produce appropriate biophysical, labor, and economic outcomes. We conclude there is potential to use similar model development methods to describe other crop–livestock systems, thus providing tools for learning, scenario analysis, and impact assessment.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Crop–livestock interactions Crop–livestock systems Milpa Sheep Shifting cultivation System dynamics
Journal or Publication Title: Agricultural Systems
Page Range: pp. 13-19
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2010.08.006
Additional Information: Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2012 05:02
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:43
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/15187
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