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Positive impacts of farmland fragmentation on agricultural production efficiency in Qilu Lake watershed: Implications for appropriate scale management

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  • Yu, Peiheng
  • Fennell, Shailaja
  • Chen, Yiyun
  • Liu, Hui
  • Xu, Lu
  • Pan, Jiawei
  • Bai, Shaoyun
  • Gu, Shixiang

Abstract

Farmland fragmentation can be influenced by factors that operate at different scales. It is not only a spatial boundary pattern of farmland use and management rights shaped by macro policies but also a self–organisation process that determines the utilisation and management of farmland units. Farmland fragmentation is generally considered ineffective for improving agricultural production efficiency, whilst its positive effects are ignored by policymakers because the forms, scenarios and causes of farmland fragmentation are not clearly defined. The historical process and various heterogeneous conditions in the Qilu Lake watershed, Yunnan Province, China make the area an interesting case to investigate the relationship between farmland fragmentation and agricultural production efficiency. Using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) images and a field survey, we (i) determined forms, scenarios and the causes of existing farmland fragmentation; (ii) measured the level of farmland fragmentation and agricultural production efficiency; and (iii) analysed the impact of farmland fragmentation on agricultural production efficiency by using the Tobit regression model. The results indicate that the forms of farmland fragmentation include physical (internal, use and location) and tenure (ownership/usership) fragmentation in the Qilu Lake watershed. The average plot size, the number of plots and the distance amongst plots all indicate that the physical and tenure fragmentation is serious and heterogeneous. Farmland fragmentation in the Qilu Lake watershed is the result of self–organisation and appropriate scale management adaptation. The distribution of farmland ownership and usership as a response to regional characteristics of topography, natural disasters and dense population in a farmland scare area leads to the initial stage of location fragmentation. Internal and use fragmentation caused by planting multiple crops can adapt to the local heterogeneous ecological conditions, high population density, imperfect markets and market–oriented agricultural systems. The resilient practice is considered to be an effective risk management strategy that can promote agricultural production. Land transfer related to usership fragmentation has no effect on agricultural productivity in the Qilu Lake watershed. In addition, the social attributes of households also impact agricultural production efficiency. Our findings have two key policy implications, namely, (i) expanding the semantics of farmland fragmentation helps design policies for environment–friendly farmland utilisation and promote sustainable watershed development, and (ii) environmental and agricultural macro policies should give equal consideration to the negative and positive effects of farmland fragmentation as resilient solutions of appropriate scale management.

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  • Yu, Peiheng & Fennell, Shailaja & Chen, Yiyun & Liu, Hui & Xu, Lu & Pan, Jiawei & Bai, Shaoyun & Gu, Shixiang, 2022. "Positive impacts of farmland fragmentation on agricultural production efficiency in Qilu Lake watershed: Implications for appropriate scale management," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 117(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:lauspo:v:117:y:2022:i:c:s0264837722001351
    DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2022.106108
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