An Approach for Simulating Soil Loss from an Agro-Ecosystem Using Multi-Agent Simulation: A Case Study for Semi-Arid Ghana
Soil loss is not limited to change from forest or woodland to other land uses/covers. It may occur when there is agricultural land-use/cover modification or conversion. Soil loss may influence loss of carbon from the soil, hence implication on greenhouse gas emission. Changing land use could be considered actually or potentially successful in adapting to climate change, or may be considered maladaptation if it creates environmental degradation. In semi-arid northern Ghana, changing agricultural
... anging agricultural practices have been identified amongst other climate variability and climate change adaptation measures. Similarly, some of the policies aimed at improving farm household resilience toward climate change impact might necessitate land use change. The heterogeneity of farm household (agents) cannot be ignored when addressing land use/cover change issues, especially when livelihood is dependent on land. This paper therefore presents an approach for simulating soil loss from an agro-ecosystem using multi-agent simulation (MAS). We adapted a universal soil loss equation as a soil loss sub-model in the Vea-LUDAS model (a MAS model). Furthermore, for a 20-year simulation period, we presented the impact of agricultural land-use adaptation OPEN ACCESS Land 2015, 4 608 strategy (maize cultivation credit i.e., maize credit scenario) on soil loss and compared it with the baseline scenario i.e., business-as-usual. Adoption of maize as influenced by maize cultivation credit significantly influenced agricultural land-use change in the study area. Although there was no significant difference in the soil loss under the tested scenarios, the incorporation of human decision-making in a temporal manner allowed us to view patterns that cannot be seen in single step modeling. The study shows that opening up cropland on soil with a high erosion risk has implications for soil loss. Hence, effective measures should be put in place to prevent the opening up of lands that have high erosion risk.