China is the world's largest consumer of pesticides. To increase the use efficiency and achieve more sustainable and environmentally friendly use of pesticides in China, it is crucial to understand why Chinese farmers use such a large amount of pesticides.Design/methodology/approachThe relationship between farm size and pesticide use was investigated by using national household-level panel data from 1995 to 2016.FindingFarms that are small and fragmented lead to the use of large amounts of pesticides in China. For a given crop type, three factors contribute to a negative relationship between farm size and pesticide use: the spillover effect from the use of pesticides by other farmers in the same village, the level of mechanization and the management ability of farmers. The first two factors play important roles in the cultivation of grain crops, while the last factor is the main reason why farmers with larger plots of land use fewer pesticides in the cultivation of vegetables. In addition, the effect of agricultural machinery services on reducing the use of pesticides is currently limited, and the service system in China is still insufficient, which has been pointed out that it is also due to the prevalence of small and fragmented farms.Originality/valueThe authors investigate and compare the farm size–pesticide use relationship in both grain and cash crop production. Moreover, the authors systematically explore and explain how farm size is related to a reduction in pesticide use in the cultivation of grain crops and cash crops. These results can help to better understand the role of land scale in pesticide use, lay a foundation for the formulation of policies to reduce pesticide use and provide valuable knowledge about pesticide use for other developing countries around the world.
China Agricultural Economic Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 19, 2021
Keywords: Farm size; Pesticide use; Land fragmentation; Mechanization; Agricultural machinery services