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Departments & Programs


Sustainable Agriculture

Over the past two decades, our research has focused on agricultural and other land use issues, primarily in the Yaqui Basin, Sonora, Mexico. With our collaborators, including hydrologists, geographers, economists and agronomists, we have carried out interdisciplinary studies of intensive agricultural fertilization, water use, aquaculture development, and other land use changes in the tightly linked land-coast-sea system. Our goals are to understand the processes that control such land use decisions and their consequences, and to develop tools and approaches that allow managers to make sustainable choices in development and resource use across the entire Valley. 
While the Yaqui Valley research is no longer the focus of our work, we continue to be interested in working with others here at Stanford on sustainable agriculture and food security (

Matson, P.A. (ed). Seeds of Sustainability: Lessons from the Birthplace of the Green Revolution in Agriculture. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Ahrens, T.D., J.M. Beman, J.A. Harrison, P.K. Jewett, and P.A. Matson. 2008. “A synthesis of nitrogen transformations and transfers from land to the sea in the Yaqui Valley agricultural region of northwest Mexico.” Water Resources Research 44, W00A05, doi: 10.1029/2007WR006661.

Beman, J.M., K.R. Arrigo, and P.A. Matson. 2005. “Agricultural runoff fuels large phytoplankton blooms in vulnerable areas of the ocean.” Nature 434: 211-214.

Matson, P., A. Luers, K. Seto, R. Naylor, and I. Ortiz-Monasterio. 2005. “People, Land Use and Environment in the Yaqui Valley, Sonora, Mexico.” In Population, Land Use, and Environment, B. Entwisle and P. Stern, (eds.), 238-264. Washington, DC: National Research Council.

Harrison, J., and P. Matson. 2003. “Patterns and controls of nitrous oxide emissions from waters draining a subtropical agricultural valley.” Global Biogeochemical Cycles 17(3), 1080.

Matson, P.A., R.L. Naylor, and I. Ortiz-Monasterio. 1998. “Integration of Environmental, Agronomic, and Economic Aspects of Fertilizer Management.” Science 280:112-115.

Video on Agriculture in the Yaqui Valley (The Habitable Planet, Unit 7: Agriculture. Copyright 2007 Anneberg Media).

Yaqui Sustainability Website (static content).