Methods for Measuring Greenhouse Gas Balances and Evaluating Mitigation Options in Smallholder Agriculture

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Targeting Landscapes to Identify Mitigation Options in Smallholder Agriculture

  • Mariana C. RufinoAffiliated withCentre for International Forestry Research Institute (CIFOR) Email author 
  • , Clement AtzbergerAffiliated withUniversity of Natural Resources (BOKU)
  • , Germán BaldiAffiliated withInstituto de Matemática Aplicada San Luis, Universidad Nacional de San Luis and Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONICET)
  • , Klaus Butterbach-BahlAffiliated withInternational Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU)
  • , Todd S. RosenstockAffiliated withWorld Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
  • , David SternAffiliated withMaseno University


This chapter presents a method for targeting landscapes with the objective of assessing mitigation options for smallholder agriculture. It presents alternatives in terms of the degree of detail and complexity of the analysis, to match the requirement of research and development initiatives. We address heterogeneity in land-use decisions that is linked to the agroecological characteristics of the landscape and to the social and economic profiles of the land users. We believe that as projects implement this approach, and more data become available, the method will be refined to reduce costs and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of mitigation in smallholder agriculture. The approach is based on the assumption that landscape classifications reflect differences in land productivity and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and can be used to scale up point or field-level measurements. At local level, the diversity of soils and land management can be meaningfully summarized using a suitable typology. Field types reflecting small-scale fertility gradients are correlated to land quality, land productivity and quite likely to GHG emissions. A typology can be a useful tool to connect farmers’ fields to landscape units because it represents the inherent quality of the land and human-induced changes, and connects the landscape to the existing socioeconomic profiles of smallholders. The method is explained using a smallholder system from western Kenya as an example.