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A social-ecological system evaluation to implement sustainably a biochar system in South India


Müller, Stefanie; Backhaus, Norman; Nagabovanalli, Prakash; Abiven, Samuel (2019). A social-ecological system evaluation to implement sustainably a biochar system in South India. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 39(4):43.

Abstract

Biochar has been proposed as a technology to mitigate climate change as well as improving soil fertility, energy production, and organic waste treatment. However, the implementation of such techniques in existing cropping systems requires knowledge about potential adaptation barriers. These adaptation barriers are only partly dependent on expected benefits but are deeply embedded in the place-specific settings and livelihood practices of agricultural communities. An integration of adaptation barriers in the development of biochar system designs has the potential not only to facilitate farmer’s decision but also to enhance community resilience and reduce their vulnerability. We propose a holistic methodology that considers communities as social-ecological systems. We applied this approach to agricultural communities in two villages with different cropping systems in South India. First, we modeled the social-ecological system of each village, based on qualitative interviews with local farmers, using cognitive mapping. Second, we tested the implementation scenarios of two types of biochar system designs (small-/large-scale) and a worst-case failure scenario, which were developed by triangulating theoretical information from literature review with information from qualitative interviews and focus groups. Third, we analyzed the outcome on the resilience and vulnerability of the social-ecological systems to define the place-specific adaptation barriers. We were able to successfully capture for the first time the adaptation barriers of two communities concerning a biochar system implementation. We could show that sustainable biochar system designs not only differ depending on site but also demonstrate particularly the relevance of procedural processes independent of site, such as maintenance of autonomy, provision of participation in planning, or promotion of farmers’ cooperatives with regional industries. We are certain that this approach could be used for the setting up of future biochar systems or novel technology in general not only in tropical regions but elsewhere.

Abstract

Biochar has been proposed as a technology to mitigate climate change as well as improving soil fertility, energy production, and organic waste treatment. However, the implementation of such techniques in existing cropping systems requires knowledge about potential adaptation barriers. These adaptation barriers are only partly dependent on expected benefits but are deeply embedded in the place-specific settings and livelihood practices of agricultural communities. An integration of adaptation barriers in the development of biochar system designs has the potential not only to facilitate farmer’s decision but also to enhance community resilience and reduce their vulnerability. We propose a holistic methodology that considers communities as social-ecological systems. We applied this approach to agricultural communities in two villages with different cropping systems in South India. First, we modeled the social-ecological system of each village, based on qualitative interviews with local farmers, using cognitive mapping. Second, we tested the implementation scenarios of two types of biochar system designs (small-/large-scale) and a worst-case failure scenario, which were developed by triangulating theoretical information from literature review with information from qualitative interviews and focus groups. Third, we analyzed the outcome on the resilience and vulnerability of the social-ecological systems to define the place-specific adaptation barriers. We were able to successfully capture for the first time the adaptation barriers of two communities concerning a biochar system implementation. We could show that sustainable biochar system designs not only differ depending on site but also demonstrate particularly the relevance of procedural processes independent of site, such as maintenance of autonomy, provision of participation in planning, or promotion of farmers’ cooperatives with regional industries. We are certain that this approach could be used for the setting up of future biochar systems or novel technology in general not only in tropical regions but elsewhere.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Agronomy and Crop Science, Environmental Engineering
Language:English
Date:1 August 2019
Deposited On:17 Dec 2019 16:07
Last Modified:17 Dec 2019 16:08
Publisher:Springer-Verlag France
ISSN:1773-0155
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-019-0586-y

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