Farmland size, agrochemicals and irrigation management effects on maize and wheat productivity in Mexico

Authors: Matthew LaFevor*, University of Alabama
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Latin America, Land Use
Keywords: farm size, irrigation, chemical inputs, intensification, Mexico, Latin America
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 20
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Farmland size is a key factor in debates over agricultural land use, food security, agrochemical pollution, and the future of smallholder systems. This presentation examines relationships between farmland size, chemical fertilizers and irrigation management, and maize and wheat yield in Mexico. Agricultural census data was used to estimate the mean farmland areas and crop yields of 5.5 million farms and nine million agricultural plots in 2,455 Mexican municipalities. Indices of socio-environmental and management factors were also derived to examine relationships with land use and productivity. Using linear models, the study found that although mean farmland area positively relates to maize and wheat yield, the relationships depend critically on the management contexts of chemical fertilizers and irrigation, which vary widely across farm size gradients. Smallholder yield gaps were associated with deficits in irrigation, rather than agrochemical inputs. Findings emphasize the key role that lack of irrigation access plays in creating yield gaps between smallholders and large-scale, industrial farms.

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