Rapid appraisal using landscape sustainability indicators for Yaqui Valley, Mexico
An approach for rapid appraisal of agricultural landscapes was developed and applied to the Yaqui Valley, Mexico, in order to assess progress toward sustainability. Indicators were prioritized with input from stakeholders, and then data were collected to gauge progress toward targets for those metrics. This study identifies and addresses some of the practical challenges and limitations that arise when assessments must rely on readily accessible information. The sources and quality of information to determine baseline and target values and to support future monitoring are reviewed for indicators of soil quality, productivity, biodiversity, vulnerability, poverty, transparency, and economic implications of crop diversity. Appraisal results suggest land management practices that conserve and increase the efficiency of water and nutrient use contribute to achieving goals endorsed by stakeholders. And in this arid, irrigated region, risks for soil compaction and salinization must be monitored and minimized. The approach illustrates how common gaps in reliable and scale-appropriate data can be addressed by focusing on stakeholder priorities and best available information. The approach can be applied in other regions and landscapes to identify and test strategies designed to move toward increasing agricultural sustainability.