Emergy and Economic Evaluation of Seven Typical Agroforestry Planting Patterns in the Karst Region of Southwest China
As a vast degraded land ecosystem, the karst region of southwest China is currently experiencing serious conflicts between restoration of degraded vegetation communities and agricultural activities. Furthermore, it is not clear what land use pattern suits local farmers best. To evaluate the sustainability of the degraded agricultural ecosystems in the region, methods for emergy analysis were used to compare the ecological and economic benefits from seven typical agroforestry planting patterns
... planting patterns in the Yunnan province. The eco-efficiencies of the apple pattern (AP), pear pattern (PP), pomegranate pattern (PRP) were all lower than that of the traditional corn pattern (CP), although the economic benefit was higher than that of CP. Ecological benefits of the apple-soybean pattern (ASP) and the pear-pumpkin pattern (PPP) were not significantly improved, while ecological and economic benefits of the pomegranate-grass-sheep pattern (PGSP) was improved significantly. Intercropping pumpkin in PP increased the economic efficiency by 28.3%, which was superior to that of the intercropping of soybeans (4.6%) in AP. These data implied that interplanting crops in AP and PP might result in higher economic benefit than the existing interplanting pattern. The multistory agroforestry planting pattern and raising in PGSP could optimize the relationship among tree-grass-sheep and improve ecological and economic benefits. Additionally, scenario analysis showed that local farmers might enjoy better ecological and economic benefits at a large scale by optimizing current agricultural production patterns. Our results suggest that together, both the local government and farmers can adjust the structure of agroforestry ecosystems to foster the sustainable development of the ecological industry in the karst region of China.