عنوان مقاله [English]
Identification and evaluation of indigenous knowledge and methods employed to increase biodiversity in the agroecosystems: A case study in western Khorasan province
Biodiversity loss has been a major concern to mankind, especially during the last quarter of the previous century. Now, various efforts to protect agricultural biodiversity is emerging that seems not enough. Biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems causes effective control of weeds, pests and diseases and greater resistance to changing environmental conditions and thus leads to better management of agricultural systems and increased food security. So loss of any species of biodiversity, makes it difficult for the world to continue living because the food and livelihood security of humans depend on these resources. While indigenous agricultural knowledge in dry-land land-use systems is centred on the conservation, use and optimisation of soil moisture and soil organic matter. Additionally, biodiversity is carefully managed and nurtured to interface with hydrological and nutrient cycling to provide for ecosystem resilience, food security and diversity, and risk minimization. Although potentially less important in the short term, biodiversity, encompassing variation from within species to across landscapes, may be crucial for the longer-term resilience of ecosystem functions and the services that they underpin. Accordingly, in this research, the methods employed by local farmers to increase biodiversity were investigated.
Matrials and Methods
In order to evaluate the usefulness of indigenous knowledge for assessing trends in biodiversity, a case study was undertaken in two counties, Sheshtamad and Sabzevar, in Razavi Khorasan province. This involved the use of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques, including semi-structured interviews and transect walks. To study local methods employed by farmers, 453 farmers were interviewed and questions were asked to the farmers about the number of crop species and the amount of use of methods to increase biodiversity such as rotation, fallow, mixed cropping, etc.
Results and Discussion
The results showed that agricultural systems in these areas have shifted from livelihood systems to market-based systems. Lokal farmers in these areas use a variety of methods such as using different crops from different families, intercropping, rotation, fallow, seed exchange, integration of livestock with cropping and horticulture to increase diversity in their farms. The main common products in these two cities are plants such as wheat, barley, cotton, alfalfa and pistachios. Most of the plants used in the cultivation pattern of farmers in these cities were related to plant families such as Poaceae, Fabaceae, Malvaceae, Asteraceae, Cucurbitaceae, Amaranthaceae and Rosaceae, each of which had a different contribution in the cultivation pattern of the studied villages. There was a significant difference between the villages, districts and two counties in terms of the plant species and plant families used. In all the studied villages, farmers employed more than one method to increase the diversity of their farms.The fosterage of livestock and horticulture plus to cropping in these agroecosystems led to greater economic security for farmers, in particular in adverse weather conditions.
The results showed that the farmers in these areas use different crops from different families and groups and also use methods such as intercropping, rotation, integration of livestock with cropping, fallow and seed exchange to increase the biodiversity in the three levels of species, function and ecosystem in the agroecosystems of these regions. Increasing biodiversity in agroecosystems is very important and significant issue, especially in arid and semiarid areas, because improved biodiversity in these areas can increase food and economic security to some extent. Diversification could become an essential tool for sustaining production and ecosystem services in croplands, rangelands and production forests.
Keywords: Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Resilience, Food security, Livelihood systems, Market-based systems.
This research (Grant No. 43605) was funded by Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology of the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM) is hereby acknowledged.