Farmer Landscape Knowledge in North-Central Nicaragua

Open Access
Baumann, Megan Dwyer
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 13, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Karl S Zimmerer, Thesis Advisor
  • Erica A H Smithwick, Committee Member
  • Jia-Ching Chen, Committee Member
  • smallholder
  • seed
  • local knowledge
  • nicaragua
  • tricot approach
As a result of landscape-level problems of rising temperatures, drought, and more variable precipitation, smallholders are threatened by crop losses of both commodity and subsistence crops, thus threatening their livelihoods and food security. In response, agricultural research and development institutions are pouring millions of dollars into programs centered on a landscape level approach to support farmer adaptations. With interventions’ current focus on a landscape approach, more research is needed to understand farmers’ own perceptions of landscape so to better inform adaptation programming. My research begins to characterize farmer landscape knowledge at the farm-level through interviews, sketch mapping, and transect walks with 30 farmer-participants in a seed trial program in north-central Nicaragua. Findings suggest that farmers in the region take into account nine key landscape elements when making crop management decisions, with farmers particularly concerned with efficient management of soil moisture and slope, elements sensitive to predicted shifts in precipitation and temperature as a result of climate change. My research directly contributes to recent scholarly foci on smallholders as managers and innovators in agricultural landscapes and to a landscape approach for climate change adaptation interventions.