Farming practices and policy measures for agricultural soil conservation in semi-arid Mediterranean areas: The case of the Guadalentín basin in southeast Spain

Journal ar
Land Degradation and Development
  • Volumen: 22
  • Número: 1
  • Fecha: 01 January 2011
  • Páginas: 58-69
  • ISSN: 10853278 1099145X
  • Source Type: Journal
  • DOI: 10.1002/ldr.1013
  • Document Type: Article
The objective of this paper is to analyse the adequacy and effectiveness of farming practices and agricultural soil conservation policies in the Murcia Region sector of the Guadalentín basin in southeast Spain. This area constitutes one of the most severe cases of land degradation in Europe. The basin is representative of Spanish Mediterranean areas where the predominant semi-arid dry-land farming is mixed with highly profitable intensive irrigated horticulture. Based on interviews of farmers, soil experts, governmental officers and other stakeholders, we first identify the main degradation processes on agricultural soils, as well as the used and proposed soil conservation farming practices. Then we analyse the different policy options available for both irrigated and non-irrigated agriculture and their capacity to address soil degradation in the area, making specific recommendations for their design and implementation. Our findings show that, although agricultural policies have fostered some adoption of less intensive tillage, conservation structures and water quality control, there is still plenty of room for extending these and introducing new measures, such as vegetation covers or strips, reducing fertiliser application and applying exogenous organic matter. We also conclude that some of the existing agricultural policy measures should be better adapted to regional conditions, whereas others should be further financed. Even so, their effectiveness will be limited without stricter and sustainable land use, rural development and water policies, together with education of both the population and farmers. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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