Adaptation of resilient regenerative agricultural practices by small-scale growers towards sustainable food production in north-central Arizona

Isaac K. Mpanga, Ursula K. Schuch, Jeff Schalau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The demand for agricultural lands for other uses because of population growth and extreme climate in Arizona led to 57% decrease in average farm size and 127% increase in farm numbers from 1997 to 2017, which threaten sustainable local food production. Small-scale family farms of less than 10 acres make up 50% of the farmer population in the state and have a vital role in resilient and sustainable practices that maximize land use with less negative impact on the environment. This study investigated land use and farm practices among small-scale growers in north-central Arizona in their resilience in sustainable food production. The finding revealed 52% of the small farms are family operations with dominant regenerative and sustainable practices (27% cover cropping, 26% compost, 23% crop rotation, 22% animal and green manure, 21% no-till, and 18% reduced tillage) with less interest in conventional practices (5% intensive tillage and 13% synthetic fertilizers). Ninety-five percent of the growers used biological, cultural, or mechanical practices for weed, pest, and disease control, while only 5% used conventional synthetic chemicals. For water use, 78% of the growers used water-saving irrigation practices (drip, subsurface, and sprinklers), while 11% used open flood irrigation. Driving forces for the sustainable practices among the small-scale growers are their consumers (community supported agriculture, restaurants, Farmers' Markets, and farm stands) and extreme climate conditions. Small-scale growers have great potential in advancing resilient, environmentally friendly practices for sustainable local food production and environmental stewardship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100067
JournalCurrent Research in Environmental Sustainability
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Community development
  • Local food production
  • Small-scale farms
  • Sustainable agriculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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