Whole-farm effects of livestock intensification in smallholder systems in Gansu, China
Simulation models can help to identify the whole-farm economic and biophysical impacts of smallholder farmers altering their farming systems. Incorporating long-term climate-induced variability in crop and livestock production enables the implications for agricultural household income and risk to be explored over a range of seasonal conditions. In this study, a simulation model is used to answer the following question: can reducing the area used for grain production by allocating more land to lucerne (Medicago sativa) and increasing livestock numbers improve total net farm income, reduce income variability and maintain grain self-sufficiency for farmers in the Qingyang Prefecture of Gansu Province, China? This was examined for three representative farm types found in the region: a low land-labour ratio farm household, a subsistence-oriented farm household, and a livestock-focused farm household.
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