Stephen Whitfield

Stephen Whitfield
University of Leeds · Sustainability Research Institute

PhD

About

52
Publications
13,293
Reads
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1,096
Citations
Citations since 2016
39 Research Items
1081 Citations
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2016201720182019202020212022050100150200250300
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200250300
Additional affiliations
January 2014 - present
University of Leeds
Position
  • Lecturer in Climate Change and Food Security

Publications

Publications (52)
Technical Report
Full-text available
Climate change is disrupting agriculture and food production across the world, while current food production practices are also major drivers of climate change in the first place. While mitigation of emissions from the agricultural sector is essential to create a climate-safe world, this paper specifically focuses on exploring aspects of resilienc...
Preprint
Insect pests are a major challenge to smallholder crop production in sub-Saharan Africa, where access to synthetic pesticides, which are linked to environmental and health risks, is often limited. Biological control interventions could offer a sustainable solution, yet an understanding of their effectiveness is lacking. We conducted a meta-analysis...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change will put millions more people in Africa at risk of food and nutrition insecurity by 2050. Integrated assessments of food systems tend to be limited by either heavy reliance on models or a lack of information on food and nutrition security. Accordingly, we developed a novel integrated assessment framework that combines models with in-...
Article
Full-text available
Agricultural productivity can be increased sustainably in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by reducing crop losses due to insect pest damage. As an alternative to environmentally-damaging chemical pesticides, biological control interventions and botanical pesticides show potential to achieve both high yields and profits. However, synthesized information of...
Article
Full-text available
Irrigation strategies are keys to fostering sustainable and climate-resilient rice production by increasing efficiency, building resilience and reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. These strategies are aligned with the Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) principles, which aim to maximize productivity whilst adapting to and mitigating climate change...
Article
Full-text available
Droughts and changing rainfall patterns due to natural climate variability and climate change, threaten the livelihoods of Malawi’s smallholder farmers, who constitute 80% of the population. Provision of seasonal climate forecasts (SCFs) is one means to potentially increase the resilience of rainfed farming to drought by informing farmers in their...
Article
There is significant international investment and effort in the development, piloting and upscaling of climate smart agriculture (CSA), with particular emphasis on delivering benefits to smallholder farmers through programmes of CSA interventions. However, there is poor understanding of how smallholder farmers access beneficial outcomes from change...
Article
Full-text available
Emerging information on the interactions between the COVID-19 pandemic and global food systems have highlighted how the pandemic is accentuating food crises across Africa. Less clear, however, are how the impacts differ between farming systems. Drawing on 50 key informant interviews with farmers, village leaders and extension officers in South Afri...
Preprint
Full-text available
Emerging information on the interactions between the COVID-19 pandemic and global food systems has highlighted how the pandemic is accentuating food crises across Africa. Less clear, however, are how the impacts differ between farming systems. Drawing on 50 key informant interviews with farmers, village leaders and extension officers, in South Afri...
Article
Full-text available
Global interest and investment in food system transformation should be accompanied by critical analysis of its justice implications. Multiple forms of injustice, and the potential role that research might play in exacerbating these, are key considerations for those engaging with food system transformation and justice.
Article
Full-text available
Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) has had an increasing role in the agricultural policy arena, as it aims to address climate change mitigation, adaptation and food security goals in an integrated way. In regions where agriculture has been constrained because of soil degradation and climate change, CSA aims to implement soil-based strategies that rest...
Article
Full-text available
The challenges of soil degradation and climate change have led to the emergence of Conservation Agriculture (CA) as a sustainable alternative to tillage-based agriculture systems. Despite the recognition of positive impacts on soil health, CA adoption in Africa has remained low. Previous soil health studies have mainly focused on ‘scientific’ measu...
Article
Full-text available
Crop breeding for resilience to changing climates is a key area of investment in African agricultural development, but proactively breeding for uncertain future climates is challenging. In this paper, we characterise efforts to breed new varieties of crops for climate resilience in southern Africa and evaluate the extent to which climate model proj...
Article
Full-text available
In central and southern Malawi, climate variability significantly impacts agricultural production and food availability owing to a high dependence on rain-fed maize production. Seasonal climate forecast information has the potential to inform farmers' agricultural planning, thereby improving preparedness to extreme events. In this paper we describe...
Article
Full-text available
The challenges of land degradation, climate change and food insecurity have led to the introduction of conservation agriculture (CA) aimed at enhancing yield and soil quality. Despite positive biophysical results, low adoption rates have been the focus of studies identifying constraints to wider uptake. While the adoption framework is popular for m...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This rapid climate risk assessment for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) uses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2014 risk analysis framework to assess the distribution of climate hazards and social and biophysical vulnerability to those hazards in order to identify climate risk hotspots. The assessment uses regiona...
Article
Full-text available
Early warning systems trigger early action and enable better disaster preparedness. People-centered dissemination and communication are pivotal for the effective uptake of early warnings. Current research predominantly focuses on sudden-onset hazards, such as floods, ignoring considerable differences with slow-onset hazards, such as droughts. We id...
Article
Full-text available
This focus collection on resilience to climate shocks in the tropics draws together 16 papers that predominantly examine the impacts of, and responses to, the 2015/2016 El Niño-Southern Oscillation event, in a range of contexts. This introductory synthesis contextualises the collection of papers by reviewing important concepts and highlighting some...
Article
Full-text available
This rapid climate risk assessment for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) uses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2014 risk analysis framework to assess the distribution of climate hazards and social and biophysical vulnerability to those hazards in order to identify climate risk hotspots. The assessment uses regiona...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation Agriculture (CA) is advocated as an agricultural innovation that will improve smallholder famer resilience to future climate change. Under the conditions presented by the El Niño event of 2015/16, the implementation of CA was examined in southern Malawi at household, district and national institutional levels. Agricultural system const...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation Agriculture has emerged as a popular form of climate smart agriculture aimed at enhancing climate change resilience for smallholder farmers across Africa. Despite positive biophysical results, adoption rates remain low. It has been acknowledged that improved understanding of farmer decision-making is needed due to the variation in soci...
Article
Full-text available
Climatic events are predicted to increase in magnitude and frequency as the climate changes, notably impacting poor and vulnerable communities across the Tropics. The urgency to better understand and improve communities' resilience is reflected in international agreements such as the Paris Agreement and the multiplication of adaptation research and...
Article
Full-text available
Efforts to increase agricultural productivity, adapt to climate change, and reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture are reflected in a growing interest in climate-smart agriculture (CSA). Specific indicators of productivity, adaptation and mitigation are commonly used in support of claims about the climate smartness of practices. However, it is...
Article
Full-text available
Reduced tillage, permanent ground cover and crop diversification are the three core pillars of Conservation Agriculture (CA). We assess and compare on-farm effects of different practices related to the three pillars of CA on maize yields under ENSO-driven rainfall variability in Kenya and Malawi. Reduced tillage practices increased yields per hecta...
Article
Full-text available
Eradicating hunger is a complex and multifaceted challenge, requiring evidence bases that can inform wide scale action, but that are also participatory and grounded to have local relevance and effectiveness. The Rural Household Multi-Indicator Surveys (RHoMIS) provides a broad assessment of household capabilities and food security outcomes, while e...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change research is at an impasse. The transformation of economies and everyday practices is more urgent, and yet appears ever more daunting as attempts at behaviour change, regulations, and global agreements confront material and social-political infrastructures that support the status quo. Effective action requires new ways of conceptualiz...
Article
Full-text available
In a context of both long-term climatic changes and short-term climatic shocks, temporal dynamics profoundly influence ecosystems and societies. In low income contexts in the Tropics, where both exposure and vulnerability to climatic fluctuations is high, the frequency, duration, and trends in these fluctuations are important determinants of socio-...
Article
Full-text available
A gap between the potential and practical realisation of adaptation exists: adaptation strategies need to be both climate-informed and locally relevant to be viable. Place-based approaches study local and contemporary dynamics of the agricultural system, whereas climate impact modelling simulates climate-crop interactions across temporal and spatia...
Article
Twenty-five years on from Netting’s paradigm challenging thesis about the dynamic efficiencies of household organization and the sophisticated nature of smallholder farming systems, the work continues to have relevance to contemporary debates about the future of smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This review is organized around fo...
Article
Crop models are used for an increasingly broad range of applications, with a commensurate proliferation of methods. Careful framing of research questions and development of targeted and appropriate methods are therefore increasingly important. In conjunction with the other authors in this special issue, we have developed a set of criteria for use o...
Article
Defining and achieving sustainability in the context of complex, multi-scale and constantly changing agricultural systems is a challenge for research and policy. In UK agriculture, the European Union and its Common Agricultural Policy has been a key source of funding for and approaches to sustainability in the agriculture and rural development sect...
Article
Conservation agriculture (CA) practices of reduced soil tillage, permanent organic soil coverage and intercropping/crop rotation, are being advocated globally, based on perceived benefits for crop yields, soil carbon storage, weed suppression, reduced soil erosion and improved soil water retention. However, some have questioned their efficacy due t...
Article
The development of crop varieties that are better suited to new climatic conditions is vital for future food production. Increases in mean temperature accelerate crop development, resulting in shorter crop durations and reduced time to accumulate biomass and yield. The process of breeding, delivery and adoption (BDA) of new maize varieties can take...
Article
As a result of the complexity of agri-food systems, popularly-supported ‘win-win’ solutions rarely result in wholly satisfactory outcomes. We draw on documented cases of the introduction of agricultural input subsidies; the intensification of livestock production; and the development of genetically modified crop varieties as examples of agri-food s...
Article
Future climatic and agro-ecological changes in Africa are uncertain and associated with high degrees of spatial and temporal variability and this change is differently simulated within divergent climate-crop models and in controlled crop breeding stations. Furthermore, uncertainty emerges in local contexts, not just in response to climatic systems,...
Article
In the context of contemporary concerns about climate change and food security, Conservation Agriculture (CA) has emerged as a well-supported and central component of the agricultural sector development strategy across sub-Saharan Africa, including in Zambia, which is the focus of this paper. A variety of narratives about the benefits of CA over co...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter paper examines the current interest in addressing the problem of young people’s unemployment in Africa through agriculture. Using notions of transitions and mobilities we set out a Transformative Work and Opportunity Space framework that privileges difference and diversity among work opportunities, rural areas and young people. We argu...
Article
In the context of broad scale system changes (e.g. climate change) and the prioritisation of impact-at-scale development, there is a particular need for farming systems research (FSR) to improve our understanding of the links between systems at multiple scales. Drawing on three empirical case studies of large-scale agricultural interventions in eas...
Article
Studying multifaceted risks that are simultaneously and differently perceived and experienced presents significant challenges, but gaining insight into multiple realities and rationalities is crucial for achieving effective and collaborative governance. This article describes the challenges of a recent study that looked at how different actors, ran...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The review question Under what circumstances and conditions does adoption of technology result in increased agricultural productivity? Who wants to know and why? New technology that enables sustainable and profitable production of food and fibre is critical for both food security and economic development. Whether framed in terms of modernisation...
Article
Evidence-based policy represents an emergent discourse in African agriculture and is welcomed by many for the emphasis it places on the legitimization of policies and strategies through reference to observed realities. Its intuitive premise places realized results, as opposed to theory or bias, at the foundation of policy making. However, the unive...
Article
This paper reviews the range of discourses associated with the emergent policies and practices associated with the development of micro hydropower in north East Scotland. It reviews the historic context in which water power was instrumental in providing power for a wide range of agricultural and wider rural processing activities, the explores the c...
Conference Paper
The UK's Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES) is currently running a project entitled `C-Change in GEES: Open licensing of climate change and sustainability resources in the Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences' as part of a national Open Educational Resource project. The C-Change pro...

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