Postprint version. Published in Agricultural Systems, Volume 104, Issue 1, January 1, 2011, pages 13-19.
Copyright © 2010 Elsevier.
The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2010.08.006.
Simulation models are effective tools to examine interactions between livestock, cropping systems, households, and natural resources. Our study objective was to use an integrated livestock and crop model to assess the outcomes from selected suites of management decisions observed in smallholder sheep-cropping systems of Yucatán, Mexico. The scenarios contrasted specialized systems versus mixed farming, and evaluated the outcomes of increased crop-livestock integration. Mixed enterprise scenarios involving sheep provided more income than specialized enterprises, and capitalized on a lower price of on-farm maize grain, efficient utilization of surplus labor, and availability of common land. Labor and management income was greatest for the unintegrated and partially integrated crop and livestock scenarios. It was more profitable for producers to sell excess grain and maize stover, and use common land to feed the livestock, suggesting that increased integration does not always result in improved outcomes. The results are consistent with a system not yet pushed to the point where integration is inevitable. For all sets of scenarios, the model structure was able to accommodate subtle management differences to produce appropriate biophysical, labor, and economic outcomes. We conclude there is potential to use similar model development methods to describe other crop-livestock systems, thus providing tools for learning, scenario analysis, and impact assessment.
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