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 AS  Vol.12 No.11 , November 2021
Sustainability Assessment of Smallholder Farms in the Savannah Transition Agro-Ecological Zone of Ghana
Abstract: The ever-increasing human population has resulted in political pressure to increase crop production. Currently, smallholder farmers are expected to be environmentally considerate, adapt to extreme climatic conditions and deal with financial instability. Despite these recent developments, farmers and their farming activities in these rural environs of developing countries need to improve household food and income security on a sustainable basis. A minimum data set selected from extensive data was used to determine indicators for soil sustainability assessment. This method involved expert opinion and statistical data reduction techniques. The results indicated that SOC, MBC, BS, EC, Spo and sand were the most important variables selected as MDS using PC analysis. Forest and Grassland had a high sustainability index (SI) while Savannah woodland, Fallow and Cropland were rated not sustainable (NS). For Cumulative rating using the total dataset (CR-TDS), Forest had a high sustainability index (HS), Savannah woodland and Grassland were sustainable (S) compared to Fallow and Cropland, which were sustainable with high input (SWHI). Also, for cumulative rating using the minimum dataset (CR-MDS), Forest, Savannah woodland and Grassland had high sustainability (SH) indices compared to Fallow and Cropland, which were considered sustainable with high input (SWHI). Sustainability index (SI) and Cumulative rating (CR) using the total dataset (CR-TDS) had a strong correlation (R2 = 0.91, p < 0.05) compared to SI versus CR-MDS (R2 = 0.44, p < 0.05) and CR-TDS versus CR-MDS (R2 = 0.60, p < 0.05). These methods consider that these management goals dictate soil functions affecting the selection of indicators. Using PCA and variance analysis, silt, clay, EC, SOC, MBC and CEC relating to soil texture and fertility were identified as the most influential (sensitive) indicators for soil sustainability assessment. The selected soil attributes can serve as target indicators for soil fertility restoration, erosion control and management in the Nkoranza district. Therefore, a farm-level sustainability index for small-scale and commercial farms is proposed based on readily available data for the Savannah Transition Agro-ecozone of Ghana.
Cite this paper: Awoonor, J. , Yeboah, E. , Dogbey, B. and Adiyah, F. (2021) Sustainability Assessment of Smallholder Farms in the Savannah Transition Agro-Ecological Zone of Ghana. Agricultural Sciences, 12, 1185-1214. doi: 10.4236/as.2021.1211076.
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