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Agricultural systems classification and mapping for impact and vulnerability studies

Classification tree for identifying land use systems.

Multiple cropping and mixed crop-livestock systems are important for food production, livelihoods and food security. However, their spatial patterns are unknown at a global scale. Hence, they are not considered in integrated assessments of food production and land use.

We map the extent and type of agricultural systems worldwide. We employ a mixed scales approach using data from global data sets (see figure) and from household surveys. By combining these we are able to map (by 0.5° grid cell): the dominant land use, the co-existence of crop land and pastures, the cropping intensity, the area share of single crops or cropping systems (double/triple cropping), and we can classify a grid cell as being dominated by farms that specialize in cropping, livestock husbandry or both.

Of the total 42 million km2 global agricultural land: 21 million km2 are cropland and pasture in mixed systems, 15 million km2 are pastures in livestock-dominant systems, and 4 million km2  are cropland in cropping-dominant systems. We also find that 20% of all farming households in Africa are classified as mixed systems but only 12% in Asia due to the dominance of cropping systems. Globally, approximately 23% of cropland crops are harvested multiple times a year.

This research will provide more comprehensive understanding about the spatial patterns of agricultural systems globally. This may facilitate better decision making around food production, livelihoods and food security, particularly in developing countries where data may be lacking.

A poster presented at the Impacts World 2017 Conference.

Contact Katharina Waha for more information.