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Outlook On Agriculture cover Outlook on Agriculture logo Outlook On Agriculture cover

The international journal devoted to agricultural science, policy and strategy.

ISSN 0030-7270 (print); 2043-6866 (online)

Editor: Dr Jerry Knox

This journal is covered by Thomson Reuters in the Science Citation Index, the Science Citation Index Expanded, Current Contents/Agriculture, Biology & Environmental Sciences, and BIOSIS Previews. Impact Factor: 0.538.

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Editorial coverage

Outlook on Agriculture is published quarterly and welcomes original research papers, research notes, invited reviews and commentary for an international and interdisciplinary readership. Special attention is paid to agricultural policy, international trade in the agricultural sector, strategic developments in food production, the links between agricultural systems and food security, the role of agriculture in social and economic development, agriculture in developing countries and environmental issues, including natural resources for agriculture and climate impacts. Articles should be in the region of 4,000 words; relevant literature should be cited with a recommended limit of 30 references.

Submissions - Notes for authors

Outlook on Agriculture uses an online webtool called Editman for manuscript submission, review and feedback. Please follow the link below to submit your manuscript through Editman:


You will first need to register with Editman and then upload details regarding your manuscript. The process is quick and straightforward. Once complete, you will receive an acknowledgement and your paper will then be screened for journal relevance.

Length and presentation of contributions

Articles should be in the region of 4,000 words. Research notes and shorter pieces will also be considered for publication. In addition, papers derived from work done under the EU Research Framework Programme will be readily considered. Submissions should be double-spaced. Electronic versions must be in Word.

The text should be ordered under appropriate sub-headings (not numbered paragraphs or sections) and where possible these should not be more than 800 words apart. Three levels of sub-heading are possible.

The title page should show the names and addresses of the authors, their professional status and affiliation and the address (including e-mail) to which correspondence should be sent. As this page will not be sent to referees, the title of the article (without author names) should be repeated on the first text page.

An abstract should be provided, comprising 100-150 words.

Between 3 and 6 keywords should appear below the abstract, highlighting the main topics of the paper. References should follow the Harvard system. That is, they should be shown within the text as the author's surname (or authors' surnames) followed by a comma and the year of publication, all in round brackets: for example, (Smith, 1998). For textual citations, where there are two authors please use the word 'and', not the ampersand (thus: '(Smith and Jones, 2012)'. Where there are more than two authors, please use the first-named author only, followed by 'et al' in italics (thus: Smith et al, 2012). At the end of the article a bibliographical list should be supplied, organized alphabetically by author (surnames followed by initials - all authors should be named). Bibliographic information should be given in the order indicated by the following examples: 

Articles: Wheeler, T., and Kay, M. (2010), ‘Food crop production, water and climate change in the developing world’, Outlook on Agriculture, Vol 39, No 4, pp 239–243.

Books: Lovelock, J. (2009), The Vanishing Face of Gaia: a Final Warning, Allen Lane, London.

Notes should be numbered consecutively in the text and typed in plain text at the end of the paper (not as footnotes on text pages).

Tables should be reduced to the simplest form and present only essential data. They should be submitted on separate sheets at the end of the article. The use of vertical rules in tables should be avoided.

For illustrations, line drawings and photographs are acceptable. Authors are asked to supply originals of line drawings for reproduction. Photographs should be glossy prints with good contrast. Authors should bear in mind that colour illustrations will be reproduced in black and white in the print version of the journal.

Prior Publication

Articles are received on the understanding that they are original contributions, and have not been published officially, either in print or electronic form, or submitted for publication elsewhere. In this respect, ‘discussion’ or ‘working’ papers, conference presentations and proceedings are not considered to be official publications, unless they have been formally deemed so by conference organizers, or presented as edited works through recognized publishing channels. If in doubt, authors are asked to draw the attention of the Editor to any prior dissemination of the paper in their letter of submission. Please note that articles should not be posted on personal Websites or social networking sites before or after submission.


Other than research notes, reports, and personal opinion pieces, articles will be refereed. Papers by authors who are not academics (eg submissions from industry) will also be subject to review before acceptance, but their distinct nature and aims will be fully taken into account.


Authors will be asked to assign copyright, where possible, to IP Publishing Ltd. Relevant authors’ rights are protected.

Author Checklist for Final versions

Editorial Board

  • Editor: Dr Jerry Knox, Cranfield Institute for Water Science, Dept of Environmental Science and Technology, Cranfield University, Bedford MK43 0AL, UK. E-mail: j.knox(a)cranfield.ac.uk
  • Consulting Editor: Dr David Lister, Somerset, UK

Editorial Advisory Board

  • Professor P.K. Aggarwal
    Indian Agricultural Research Institute, India
  • Dr Simon Anderson
    International Institute for Environment and Development, UK
  • Professor Deng Xi-Ping
    Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • Dr C. Devendra
    Consulting Tropical Animal Production Specialist, Malaysia
  • Dr R. C. Hardwick
    Brussels, Belgium
  • Dr Alfred Hartemink
    University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • Hsin Huang
    International Meat Secretariat, France
  • Dr Jill M. Lenné,
    Consulting Tropical Agriculture Specialist, Fyvie, UK
  • Dr Antoinette Mannion
    Department of Geography, University of Reading, UK
  • Professor Graham Matthews
    Imperial College London, UK
  • Dr Sushil Pandey
    International Rice Research Institute, The Philippines
  • Dr Thomas Fitz Randolph
    International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya
  • Dr Fabrice Renaud
    United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Germany
  • Dr J. Sumberg
    Institute of Development Studies, UK
  • Professor Guido van Huylenbroeck
    Department of Agricultural Economics, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Professor J. Van Staden
    Research Centre for Plant Growth & Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

JUNE 2014 ISSUE (VOL 43, NO 2)

71 Guest Editorial: Helping small-scale farmers reduce the ‘yield gap’ through innovation in science

Graham Matthews

75 Target groups of rural development policies: development of a survey-based farm typology for analysing self-perception statements of farmers

Huynh Thanh Hien, Christian Franke, Annette Piorr, Andrej Lange and Ingo Zasada

85 Addressing the yield gap in Sub-Saharan Africa

R.J. Hillocks

91 Organic cotton production as an adaptation option in north-west Benin

Julia Kloos and Fabrice G. Renaud

101 Producer organizations, family farms and market connection: lessons for emerging biodiesel supply chains in Brazil

João Guilherme Dal Belo Leite, Jos Bijman, Martin K. van Ittersum and Maja Slingerland

109 Assessing spectral similarities between rainfed and irrigated croplands in a humid environment for irrigated land mapping

S.A.M. Shamal and Keith Weatherhead

115 Economic profitability analysis of rainfed organic farming in SW Spain

Gabriel Pardo, Francisco Perea, Yolanda Martínez and José María Urbano

123 Assessing managerial efficiency on olive farms in Greece

Panos Fousekis, Sofia Kourtesi and Apostolos Polymeros

131 DUS characterization of rice (Oryza sativa L.) using morphological descriptors and quality parameters

Biswajit Mondal, Sumer Pal Singh and Dinesh Chandra Joshi

138 Research note: Drought deceit – can artificial stress signals be used as plant growth retardants?

Peter S. Kettlewell

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Title: Target groups of rural development policies: development of a survey-based farm typology for analysing self-perception statements of farmers

Author(s): Huynh Thanh Hien, Christian Franke, Annette Piorr, Andrej Lange and Ingo Zasada

Abstract: There is a lack of empirical knowledge about the complex factors that shape a farmer’s decisions to participate in rural development (RD) measures. The objective of this study was to develop and test the suitability of an original typology that identifies distinct groups affected by the thematic objectives of the European Union’s RD policies. The results are based on empirical data (n = 277) drawn from two case study areas in Germany, where information related to farm structures was collected along with the self-assessment statements of farmers. The paper emphasizes the description and reasoning of the methodological steps performed to achieve this typology. First, factor analysis was used to reduce datasets and to exclude multicollinearity problems. A two-step cluster analysis was then applied to classify farms into representative types within the derived typology. Finally, farmers’ self-perception statements were analysed in relation to the farm typology by using qualitative description methods.

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Title: Addressing the yield gap in Sub-Saharan Africa

Author(s): R.J. Hillocks

Abstract: Increases in the production of food crops are no longer keeping pace with population growth in Africa, so the continent is increasingly relying on food imports. This would not be the case if crop yields were closer to their potential under good crop management. As climate change makes rainfall more variable, it becomes more risky for smallholders to adopt high-input technologies for crop intensification. This paper uses case studies on the yield gap in cassava, maize and cotton and examines the factors that contribute to low yields, the disincentives for technology adoption and some of the strategies required to close the yield gap. The paper argues that institutional factors are as important as technical ones in addressing the current yield gap in Africa. The main conclusions are that the yield gap is much more difficult to close in rainfed agriculture than in irrigated production where low soil fertility constrains the response to inorganic fertilizer. The combination of institutional and agronomic factors that influence the ability of farmers to improve crop yields profitably often operates at the farm or local level.

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Title: Organic cotton production as an adaptation option in north-west Benin

Author(s): Julia Kloos and Fabrice G. Renaud

Abstract: Organic agriculture is increasingly recognized as an adaptation measure to support sustainable livelihoods under a changing climate. This study assesses how it constitutes a suitable adaptation strategy in north-west Benin to make rural households more resilient to the increased likelihood of flooding, high-intensity rainfall or droughts. Based on household interviews, focus group discussions and expert interviews in villages around the Pendjari National Park, it was found that agricultural practices of organic cotton production directly reduced the most frequent climatic risks that households faced, and indirectly contributed to reducing economic risks and to empowering women. But there are also obstacles, such as the availability of sufficient organic material and the need for transport to dispersed fields, which currently limit adaptation potential.

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Title: Producer organizations, family farms and market connection: lessons for emerging biodiesel supply chains in Brazil

Author(s): João Guilherme Dal Belo Leite, Jos Bijman, Martin K. van Ittersum and Maja Slingerland

Abstract: Producer organizations (POs) are often recognized as a pathway to boost rural development by enhancing farmers’ access to market opportunities. Smallholder production and marketing of new crops (such as those for biodiesel feedstock) are constrained as farmers and buyers face high transaction costs. By investigating cases of POs outside the biofuel industry, the authors explore the extent to which POs could reduce transaction costs. The findings indicate that POs are capable of linking farmers effectively to markets in cases in which high value is added to farm products and/or farmers are highly specialized. However, the scope for POs in linking farmers to biodiesel markets is limited due to organization-specific characteristics, the low value added of the feedstock, plus multiple trade-offs with current farm activities.

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Title: Assessing spectral similarities between rainfed and irrigated croplands in a humid environment for irrigated land mapping

Author(s): S.A.M. Shamal and Keith Weatherhead

Abstract: Deriving accurate spatial assessments of the distribution of irrigated crops has become more important in recent years for water resource planning, particularly where irrigation water resources are constrained. However, this is easier in arid climates than in humid areas such as eastern England. The challenges in using alternative vegetation indices derived from remote sensing to discriminate between irrigated and rainfed crops in a humid climate are described, focusing on potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), the most important irrigated crop in England. Three techniques were evaluated: (a) temporal profile comparisons using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI); (b) cluster analysis combining the NDVI and the Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI); and (c) identifying differences in chlorophyll content using green and near infrared bands. However, the study confirmed that the spectral signatures of irrigated and rainfed potato in England during a typical summer are very similar, presumably due to frequent rainfall events which reduce differences in water stress and chlorophyll content. The implications for using remote sensing to estimate irrigated areas in humid climates are discussed.

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Title: Economic profitability analysis of rainfed organic farming in SW Spain

Author(s): Gabriel Pardo, Francisco Perea, Yolanda Martínez and José María Urbano

Abstract: The economic importance of organic production systems is growing year on year. Producers who wish to convert their farms to organic farming face significant transition costs due to changes in management, work organization and lifestyle. The aim of this study was to compare the yield and economic outputs of a conventional and an organic farming system in south-west Spain, a region characterized by a subhumid climate. The organic rotation of wheat–sunflower–peas–faba bean (green manure) was compared with a conventional rotation of wheat–sunflower over four cropping seasons. Economic analysis showed that organic farming was 62% more profitable, assuming current organic premium prices, and 36% more profitable when selling products in conventional markets. However, without the Common Agricultural Policy and regional payments and with conventional prices, the profitability of organics falls below that of conventional production.

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Title: Assessing managerial efficiency on olive farms in Greece

Author(s): Panos Fousekis, Sofia Kourtesi and Apostolos Polymeros

Abstract: This study assesses the managerial efficiency of olive farming in Greece by employing a robust technical efficiency estimator and method proposed by Badin et al (2012) which allows the ranking of production units on the basis of management ability and effort in a theoretically consistent way. The empirical results, based on 478 Farm Accountancy Data Network observations, suggest that managerial efficiency and effort make an important contribution to overall productive efficiency. Managerial efficiency and effort are positively associated with the ratio of family labour to total labour and the degree of intensification of production, and negatively associated with the ratio of owned land to total land. Public policies should therefore focus on improving managerial efficiency by investing in human capital and facilitating the further integration of olive-growing farms into input markets.

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Title: DUS characterization of rice (Oryza sativa L.) using morphological descriptors and quality parameters

Author(s): Biswajit Mondal, Sumer Pal Singh and Dinesh Chandra Joshi

Abstract: India has recently enacted Distinctiveness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) characterization for rice. This paper focuses on DUS characterization using morphological descriptors for 21 rice varieties planted in a randomized block design during two kharif seasons (2007 and 2008). Data were recorded for 60 DUS descriptors (46 qualitative and 14 quantitative) following guidelines from the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rights Authority (PPV & FRA). Data on quantitative traits were subjected to Combined Over Years Distinctness (COYD) and Combined Over Years Uniformity (COYU) analyses. The descriptors offering the most discrimination were time to 50% heading, decorticated grain shape, and the colour of lemma and palea. The cultivar Sathi, an improved landrace entry, was observed to be the most distinct, with the rarest morphological features. Eight of the 21 qualitative and 8 of the 14 quantitative traits exhibited uniformity as determined by UPOV-recommended levels. Twelve of the quantitative traits were relatively stable as judged by seasonal variation in Phenotypic Coefficient of Variation (PCV) and Genotypic Coefficient of Variation (GCV) values. Finally, the varieties were clustered following the eight grouping characteristics recommended by PPV & FRA. All the approaches clustered the improved landrace entities separately from the conventionally bred varieties.

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Title: Research note: Drought deceit – can artificial stress signals be used as plant growth retardants?

Author(s): Peter S. Kettlewell

Abstract: Long-distance signals moving from roots to shoots in response to drought lead to reduced vegetative growth. The hypothesis that the artificial manipulation of one of these signals, alkalization of the xylem sap, can reduce problems of excessive growth in arable crops, has been tested in oilseed rape (canola; Brassica napus L.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Experiments with detached shoots have shown that both crop species can respond to artificial alkaline xylem sap with reduced leaf expansion. Applications of alkalizing agents to intact plants, either as pH buffer sprays or as solid calcium carbonate, have successfully retarded leaf expansion. The retardation has, however, either been inconsistent (possibly through difficulty in penetrating the variable epicuticular wax layer) or of very short duration (possibly through efficient buffering of internal pH). It can be inferred from these results that the greatest commercial potential for alkalizing growth retardants may be with high-value, short- duration crops that do not have a thick layer of epicuticular wax, and using either multiple applications or persistent formulations.

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