American Journal of Alternative Agriculture

Journal Information
ISSN / EISSN : 0889-1893 / 1478-5498
Published by: CABI Publishing (10.1079)
Total articles ≅ 923
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Latest articles in this journal

American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Volume 18, pp 185-195;

Despite efforts to develop intensive poultry production, family poultry (FP) is still very important in low-income, food-deficit countries (LIFDCs). In LIFDCs, the keeping of poultry by local communities has been practiced for many generations. FP is an appropriate system for supplying the fast-growing human population with high-quality protein. It can also provide additional income to the generally resource-poor small farmers, especially women. Although requiring low levels of inputs, FP contributes significantly to food security, poverty alleviation and ecologically sound management of natural resources. FP is also a source of employment for underprivileged groups and less-favored areas in LIFDCs. Developing schemes that aim to promote and improve the FP sub-sector in a way that is sustainable must not underestimate the roles and contributions of women. However, getting new information to the front line of production requires more gender-disaggregated data. This paper stresses the need to design, implement, monitor and evaluate FP development programs by taking into account socio-cultural, especially gender, issues.
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Volume 18, pp 206-212;

Agricultural landscapes are essential for preserving biodiversity, even though agricultural activities are the leading cause of habitat degradation worldwide. About half of the Earth's productive land area is farmed or grazed, whereas only about 6% of the total land area is protected for native species and ecosystems. The ecological services of healthy ecosystems are fundamental to agriculture, and these services depend upon a large number of species interacting with each other and with inorganic nutrient cycles. Likewise, the quality of ecosystems between reserves is critical to the persistence of species and ecological processes within reserves. Thus, conservation-oriented farming methods are critically important for both agriculture and biodiversity. Three examples illustrate agricultural practices that benefit the farmers, the local ecosystem and the landscape: (1) In Minnesota, rotational grazing, evaluated by the collaborative research of farmers and scientists, improved soil, pasture and stream quality, and boosted the confidence of the farmers in developing more sustainable grazing practices. (2) Predator-friendly ranching in Montana, in which nonlethal methods are used to protect livestock from depredation by native predators, benefited the ranchers with premium prices for wool and meat. The persistence of native predators, many of which have been on endangered species lists for years, benefited the regional ecosystem. (3) Shade-grown coffee in Latin America, in which coffee shrubs grow under an intact forest canopy, often looks and behaves ecologically like native forest and may house high levels of native biodiversity. This system benefited farmers, as long as they received a price premium for shade-grown coffee. The economic viability of these conservation-oriented practices depends upon farmers receiving price premiums for their products and by society rewarding fanners for their practices. A vision of ecological farming as the dominant form of agriculture is presented, with benefits at the scale of the farm, the landscape and society.
John W. Doran, Sarah Peck
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Volume 18, pp 173-173;

Editorial - Volume 18 Issue 4 - John W. Doran, Sarah Peck
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Volume 18, pp 213-224;

A mail survey was used to gather information from the main food buyer in random households in southeast Missouri to analyze consumer preferences for locally grown food. A majority of shoppers in the region were not aware of the state's AgriMissouri promotion program. Consumers defined locally grown not as a statewide concept but as a narrower regional concept that could cross state boundaries. Most important when purchasing produce were quality and freshness, and most consumers perceived local produce at farmers' markets to be of higher quality and lower price. Farm households were not significantly different from other households in the region and did not show a preference or willingness to pay a price premium for local food products. Food buyers who were members of an environmental group had higher education and income and were more likely to purchase organic food and more willing to pay a higher price for local produce. Households in which someone was raised on a farm, or had parents who were raised on a farm, had a preference for locally grown food and were willing to pay a price premium for it. Marketing local products should stress quality, freshness, and price competitiveness, and appeal to environmentalists and those with a favorable attitude towards family farms.
, Heather D. Karsten
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Volume 18, pp 174-184;

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is a grassroots organization that facilitates the exchange of sustainable farming practices among its members, creates marketing opportunities for local farmers, and promotes consumer awareness and support for sustainable agriculture. Interviews with PASA's board members and staff, content analyses of PASA's literature, and a mail survey and spatial analysis of PASA's members—who include both farmers and members who do not farm—were used to examine members' characteristics, why they value being members, and the philosophies and strategies that guide the organization's successes. Results indicate that by embracing a broad definition of sustainable agriculture, PASA promotes profitable and environmentally sound farming practices to a diversity of farmers. Networking with a broad cross-section of local and regional organizations and institutions has enabled PASA to use the expertise of community leaders and share fundraising to develop marketing opportunities for farmers. Linking sustainable agriculture with priorities of community economic development has brought farmers to urban planning tables, increased inner city access to fresh, local food, and increased the economic viability of local farmers. PASA's experiences exemplify the opportunities and tensions involved with networking with mainstream institutions to gain greater support for the sustainable agriculture community. PASA provides one model of how sustainable agriculture organizations can play an integral role in supporting sustainable agriculture.
, Bengt Håkansson, Mats Gustafsson
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Volume 18, pp 196-205;

The traditional farming system (TFS) in the Ghouta has been an integral pan of the social life and has contributed to the food supply of Damascus for millennia. Very little is known about this traditional and sustainable system, considered by many as a hindrance to development. This study is an attempt to analyze the economic perfonnance of this system. The objective is to evaluate the economic performance of the TFS and its impact on system viability. Three farms, representing the three different agricultural strategies in this area, were selected for data-collection. Participant observation was used to derive estimates of labor, costs and revenues, which are not recorded by farmers. These three farms formed a base for continuous contact with other farmers in the Ghouta. The average values, after cross-checking with these estimates and other farmers, were used in the economic analysis at three levels: production, family and market level. The production system of the Ghouta is adaptable to economic forces of a major city as the high level of market orientation of the TFS stimulates diversity of farms. It is concluded that the diversified farms managed by farmers in this area provide a satisfactory income, which is in harmony both with the social values and with preserving the system, the overall objective of the farmers.
, Rupert W. Jannasch, Alan H. Fredeen, Ralph C. Martin
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Volume 18, pp 137-145;

Minimizing nutrient surpluses and improving efficiency of nutrient use are key challenges for all dairy farming production systems, driven by economic, environmental and increasing regulatory constraints. Our study examined the efficiency of N, P and K use on a commercial dairy farm through an integrated approach that evaluated the nutrient status of all aspects of the production system of the case-study farm, a 75 lactating Holstein cow dairy in Kings County, Nova Scotia, Canada. During the decade after 1988, the farm owner implemented a series of changes in production practices, including diversification of the crop rotation, implementation of a management intensive grazing (MIG) regime and adoption of a systematic approach to soil and nutrient management. Milk production, and associated farm exports of N, P and K, increased by 666 kg cow−1 between 1990 and 2000. Purchases of N-P-K fertilizers were eliminated in 1990 and feed nutrient imports were dramatically reduced. Feed costs per liter of milk declined from 14.3 cents (CDN) liter−1 in 1990–92 to 11.6 cents liter−1 in 1998–2000, even as feed prices increased regionally by 10–20% over the same period. Modeling of current whole farm mass N, P and K balance indicated that 25.0% of all N inputs are recovered inform products, milk and meat. Non-legume-derived field N input (67kg Nha−1 before losses) was close to optimum for the predominantly legume/grass-based forage cropping system. Model-determined annual farm nutrient surpluses (outputs-inputs) for P (9.0kgha−1 yr−1) and K (8.2 kg ha−1 yr−1) were significantly lower than those previously reported for regional confinement-based dairy farms, which were more reliant on corn production. However, data from 16 years of soil analysis (1985–2001) indicated an increase in soil-test P levels of approximately 2 mg kg−1 yr−1. Recent refinements in dairy animal dietary P levels have further reduced the farm P surplus (2.6 kg ha−1 in year 2001) and are shown as key to a strategy for reversal of the trend in soil-test P levels. In summary, the combined approach of whole-farm system nutrient management, crop diversification and MIG increased milk production and minimized costs while reducing farm nutrient inputs. The study demonstrates how an approach to dairy farm nutrient management which integrates livestock and crop nutrient requirements may reduce dairy farm nutrient loading while maintaining productivity.
, J.A. Ivany, J.A. MacLeod
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Volume 18, pp 164-170;

Spring milling wheat (Triticum aestivum L em. Thell) and soybean (Glycine max L.) cultivars were managed to International Organic Certification Standards on two organically certified farms to evaluate two physical weed control methods, cultivar performance and quality. Nutrients were supplied as manure and compost. There was no difference (P
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