Improving smallholder farmer’s soil nutrient management: The effect of science and technology backyards in the North China plain

Abstract:

Soil nutrient management and fertilizer use by farmers are important for sustainable grain production. The authors examined the effect of an experimental agricultural extension program, the science and technology backyard, in promoting sustainable soil nutrient management in the North China Plain (NCP). The science and technology backyard integrates farmer field schools, field demonstrations, and case-to-case counselling to promote sustainable farming practices among rural smallholders. The authors conducted a large-scale household survey ofmore than 2,000 rural smallholders. The authors used a multivariate regression analysis as the benchmark to assess the effect of the science-and-technology backyard on smallholder soil nutrient management. Furthermore, the authors used coarse exact matching (CEM) methods to control for potential bias due to self-selection and the (endogenous) switching regression approach as the main empirical analysis. The results show that the science-and-technology backyard program increased smallholders’ wheat yield by approximately 0.23 standard deviation; however, no significant increase in maize yield was observed. Regarding soil nutrient use efficiency, the authors found a significant improvement in smallholders’ phosphorus and potassium use efficiencies for both wheat and maize production, and a significant improvement in nitrogen use efficiency for wheat production, but no significant improvement of nitrogen use efficiency for maize production.

Authors:

Fan Li, College of Economics and Management, Huazhong Agricultural University, China; Development Economics Group, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands.
Dangui Li, International Forest Policy, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Maarten Voors, Development Economics Group, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands.
Shuyi Feng (Corrresponding author) College of Public Administration, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China.
Weifeng Zhang, Center for Resources, Environment and Food Security, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China.
Nico Heerink, Development Economics Group, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands;

To cite this work: Li, F., Li, D., Voors, M., Feng, S., Zhang, W., Heerink, N. (2023). Improving smallholder farmer’s soil nutrient management: The effect of science and technology backyards in the Nother China plain. China Agricultural Economic Review, 15(1), 134 – 158.

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