Adoption and continued use of contour cultivation in the highlands of southwest China
This paper examines the use and continued use of contour cultivation in Yunnan Province. Descriptive analysis shows that even with easy-to-adopt conservation practices such as contour cultivation, we do not observe high rates of adoption without subsidy or monetary incentives. Multivariate analysis shows that households with larger plots, more fertile land and male and younger decision makers are more likely to use contour cultivation. Households relying more heavily on agricultural income tend to continue to use contour cultivation. The findings suggest that the trends in China's agriculture sector (increasing off-farm employment, aging and more female farmers on farm) are not conducive to the use of soil conservation practices. To alleviate soil erosion problems, the government should increase investment in agricultural extension and provide farmers with monetary incentives to encourage the adoption of environmental conservation measures. Policies should also target marginal land where conservation efforts may be lacking.
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