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Irrigation Increases Crop Species Diversity in Low-Diversity Farm Regions of Mexico

Matthew C. LaFevor () and Aoife K. Pitts ()
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Matthew C. LaFevor: Department of Geography, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
Aoife K. Pitts: Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

Agriculture, 2022, vol. 12, issue 7, 1-18

Abstract: Although agricultural intensification generally has homogenizing effects on landscapes that reduce crop diversity, the specific effects of different input strategies on crop diversity are unclear. This study examines the effects of irrigation inputs on crop species diversity in Mexico. We assess the richness and evenness diversity of 297 crop species across 2455 municipalities while controlling for environmental and socioeconomic factors and farm structural and functional characteristics. Using a quantile regression approach, we assess relationships across conditional quantiles of low-, medium-, and high-diversity farm regions. Results show irrigation level (% cropland irrigated) is a strong positive predictor of crop species richness and evenness diversity across all quantile regions. Moreover, the quantile effects of irrigation on evenness diversity are five times greater in low-diversity rather than high-diversity regions. With implications for agricultural water policy in Mexico, this study illustrates the potential benefits of sustainable irrigation expansion in water-rich but irrigation-poor farming regions. Specifically, by enhancing crop species diversity, carefully targeted irrigation expansion can support the transition to sustainable intensification.

Keywords: crop diversity; intensification; irrigation; Mexico; quantile regression; sustainability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q1 Q10 Q11 Q12 Q13 Q14 Q15 Q16 Q17 Q18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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