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Agricultural land suitability analysis: State-of-the-art and outlooks for integration of climate change analysis

Akpoti, Komlavi, Kabo-bah, Amos T., Zwart, Sander J.
Agricultural systems 2019 v.173 pp. 172-208
United Nations, agricultural land, climate change, climatic factors, crop production, ecosystems, food security, irrigation, land evaluation, land suitability, land use planning, landscapes, models, nutrients, rhizosphere, socioeconomic factors, soil, sustainable agriculture, uncertainty
Agricultural land suitability analysis (ALSA) for crop production is one of the key tools for ensuring sustainable agriculture and for attaining the current global food security goal in line with the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) of United Nations. Although some review studies addressed land suitability, few of them specifically focused on land suitability analysis for agriculture. Furthermore, previous reviews have not reflected on the impact of climate change on future land suitability and how this can be addressed or integrated into ALSA methods. In the context of global environmental changes and sustainable agriculture debate, we showed from the current review that ALSA is a worldwide land use planning approach. We reported from the reviewed articles 69 frequently used factors in ALSA. These factors were further categorized in climatic conditions (16), nutrients and favorable soils (34 of soil and landscape), water availability in the root zone (8 for hydrology and irrigation) and socio-economic and technical requirements (11). Also, in getting a complete view of crop’s ecosystems and factors that can explain and improve yield, inherent local socio-economic factors should be considered. We showed that this aspect has been often omitted in most of the ALSA modeling with only 38% of the total reviewed article using socio-economic factors. Also, only 30% of the studies included uncertainty and sensitivity analysis in their modeling process. We found limited inclusions of climate change in the application of the ALSA. We emphasize that incorporating current and future climate change projections in ALSA is the way forward for sustainable or optimum agriculture and food security. To this end, qualitative and quantitative approaches must be integrated into a unique ALSA system (Hybrid Land Evaluation System - HLES) to improve the land evaluation approach.