Rates of poverty and economic inequality in rural Alabama are among the nation's highest and increasing agricultural productivity can provide a needed boost to these communities. Despite the potential to enhance stability and resilience in rural economies, irrigated cropland accounts for only 5% of Alabama's total cropland as numerous barriers remain to irrigation adoption. Analysis of a new statewide, parcel-level dataset found that 68% of agricultural parcels in Alabama do not have riparian access to surface water and must rely on ponds or groundwater to support irrigation - both costly investments. Moreover, discrepancies in riparian access are amplified by socioeconomic and racial inequities throughout the state, but are particularly pronounced in the Black Belt region.
This and deeper analyses of the status of irrigation in Alabama were recently published by Price et al. (2022) in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. The analysis shows that of the 132,088 parcels in Alabama identified with at least 5 acres of cropland and/or pasture, only 42,089 (32%) have riparian access that could support irrigation. Parcels with riparian access are also on average much larger (109.8 acres) than those without riparian access (57.0 acres). Parcels without riparian access must also drill wells an average of about 20 feet deeper (261.8 ft) than those with riparian access (240.2 ft). While these discrepancies may seem dramatic at the state-level, differences in surface water access and barriers to irrigation adoption are concentration in areas with socially and historically disadvantaged farmers (SHDFs).
A surprising finding of Price et al. (2022) was that parcels in the Black Belt lacking surface water or riparian access were more likely to be newly irrigated. There are two contextual factors that explain this outcome. First, large farms, which can achieve the economy of scale necessary to justify the investment in groundwater-based irrigation, are likely driving this irrigation trend. The Black Belt had the largest parcel sizes of irrigated parcels prior to the study period (by 2006) regardless of water access. Second, there are clear discrepancies among producers in the Black Belt that influence the probability of a transition to irrigation. According the USDA Agricultural Census statistics (USDA, 2020), the Black Belt has the highest proportion (0.37) of African American (2,114) to White (5,745) producers of any of the agricultural regions in the state. However, the Black Belt also has the largest inequity in average farm sizes between African American (85.31 ac; 34.52 ha) and White (308.31 ac; 124.77 ha) producers of any agricultural region in the state. Combined with limited return on irrigation investments for small farms, lack of access to credit and insufficient capital for initial investment have been noted as specific barriers to irrigation for African-American farmers in the Black Belt. Many farmers in this region are characterized as socially and historically disadvantaged farmers (SHDFs), for whom the capital required for accessing groundwater for irrigation is often prohibitive, which prevents them from building on other on-farm investments. Thus, it is mostly White, large-scale producers that are driving irrigation trends in the Black Belt. The unintended consequences of the state's riparian rights policy are particularly evident in this region where the discrepancies among producers are most pronounced and irrigation options are limited for producers without riparian or surface water access.
Diverse policy tools are needed that acknowledge the varying motivations, constraints, and historical disadvantage faced by Alabama's farmers that have produced divergent agricultural systems in the state.
By Dr. Nicholas Magliocca
I will be speaking at an upcoming event titled "Illicit Drug Economies and the Environment" at a Side Event of the 64th Commission of Narcotic Drugs. The event is organized by the UNODC Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs with the support of Germany, and the Centro de Estudios de Seguridad y Dorgas, CESED, Universidad de los Andes. I will be discussing a multi-author collaborative paper coming out soon in a special issue of the Journal of Illicit Economies and Development.
Looks like it will be a great event. Here is a flyer and here is a link to the whole program.
We are organizing two sessions along the theme of “Clandestine and Illicit Economies as Drivers of Land System Dynamics” at the 4th Open Science Meeting (OSM) of the Global Land Programme in Bern, Switzerland, April 24-26, 2019. These sessions’ objectives are to delve into how clandestine and illicit transactions – i.e., economic/capital exchanges involving land that are intentionally hidden or non-public because they break formal laws – influence land system dynamics, and how best to advance policy and governance interventions into illicit transactions.
The two session are as follows:
1) Research session: “Clandestine and Illicit Economies as Drivers of Land System Dynamics”
The importance of clandestine and illicit economies as drivers of land system dynamics is becoming more widely recognized. Yet, causally linking these activities and their associated capital flows to land system state and transformation remains difficult, and challenges attempts to conceptualize, detect, and study clandestine and illicit economies as land system components comparable to legal economic activities. This session will seek submissions that explore 1) how clandestine and illicit economies support or threaten land systems (OSM Theme 1), and/or 2) how Land System Science (LSS) perspectives and approaches can be used to gain insights into how clandestine and illicit economies operate (OSM Theme 3).
2) Innovative and Immersive session: “Policy and Governance of Illicit and/or Clandestine Transactions and Land-Use Changes”
This immersive session invites a range of practitioners and watchdog organizations to reflect on the role of science in informing policy on this topic, and present what they see as the types of evidence and/or research required to better govern harmful effects of illicit capital flows and/or clandestine transactions on people and nature. Panelists will be invited to comment on key questions and the policy relevance (or lack thereof) of the research in the preceding panel on the same topic, as well as field audience questions to discuss this important issue. This innovative/immersive session supports OSM theme 3 by proposing steps forward in supporting transformation regarding this global challenge.
Please find the Call for Abstracts for each session attached.
Submission of abstracts: https://www.conftool.com/osm2019/index.php?page=submissions
Submission deadline: October 30th, 2018
We look forward to receiving your abstracts for a session by October 30th and seeing you at the OSM.
Beth Tellman and Nicholas Magliocca
Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
April 3-7, 2019, Washington, DC, USA
"Agent-Based Modeling of Human-Environment Interactions"
Nicholas Magliocca, Department of Geography, University of Alabama
Tom Evans, School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona
Call For Abstracts:
Agent-based modeling (ABM) is a maturing method applied across a diverse range of disciplines and topics. The broad uptake of ABMs is in part due the need to understand how individual-level attributes, motivations, and decision-making processes produce regional, sectoral, or population-level outcomes. Such understanding is critical for informing policy or management interventions of human-environment interactions to achieve desirable, aggregate outcomes, such as more sustainable natural resource consumption and/or reducing vulnerability. The aim of this session is to bring together researchers using ABM techniques (and associated methodologies) to discuss topics relating to theory, methodological issues, and novel application domains related to human-environment interactions.
Examples of salient themes and/or ABM application frontier could include:
Please e-mail the abstract and keywords with your expression of intent to Nicholas Magliocca (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Tom Evans (email@example.com) by October 17, 2018. Please make sure that your abstract conforms to the AAG guidelines in relation to title, word limit and key words and as specified at http://annualmeeting.aag.org/submit_an_abstract. An abstract should be no more than 250 words that describes the presentation's purpose, methods, and conclusions as well as to include keywords. Full submissions will be given priority over submissions with just a paper title.
SPONSORS: Spatial Analysis and Modeling, Geographic Information Systems and Science, Human Dimensions of Global Change