Farmers' perceptions of soil erosion and its consequences in India's semiarid tropics uri icon

abstract

  • This paper investigates farmers' perceptions of soil erosion and how it affects crop yields, land values, and private conservation investments in India's semiarid tropics. It is based on three types of data: (1) a survey of farmers in three study villages; (2) a plot survey by a professional soil surveyor in the same villages; and (3) experimental and simulated data from nearby research stations with similar conditions. Farmers' perceptions of erosion are compared to the surveyor's using kappa, a statistical measure of interrater agreement. Perceived erosion-yield relationships are estimated econometrically and compared to experimental and simulated data. Effects on land values and conservation investments are estimated econometrically. Findings suggest that farmers are keenly aware of fill erosion but less aware of sheet erosion; kappa values ranging from 0 to 0.28 suggest low agreement with the soil surveyor. They anticipate annual yield losses of 5.8-11 percent due to fill erosion; these figures are reasonably consistent with those from nearby research stations. They anticipate yield increases of 3.8-14.5 percent due to installation of soil conservation bunds, largely because they can harvest soil from up the slope and capture organic matter. Perceived erosion has some effect on land values and soil conservation investments, but other factors such as irrigation and soil type have a much greater effect. These findings suggest that promoting soil conservation requires capitalizing on farmers' interest in short-term gains, such as from water and nutrient management. Copyright (c) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

publication date

  • 2005
  • 2005