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Assessing the sustainability of crop production systems: is a common framework possible?

Abstract : The integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of agriculture in a holistic assessmentframework is essential to support the development of sustainable farming. Despite the fact that some sustainabilityassessment tools fulfil this condition, none of them is suitable for handling different assessmentsituations, especially considering diverse crop production systems – arable crops, fruits and vegetables – atdifferent stages of development – research-desk prototypes (ex ante assessment) or in-field applied croppingsystems (ex post assessment). The objective of this work is to explore the possibility of sharing a sustainabilityassessment framework that can be implemented on different objects for improving (i) the communicationamong the stakeholders involved in the development of sustainable farming and (ii) the action planning interms of research as well as policy making.In this respect, the adaptation of the qualitative sustainability assessment tool DEXiPM (i) from arable crops(Pelzer et al., 2012) to other production systems and (ii) from the ex ante to the ex post assessment has representeda valuable source of ideas. Regarding the first task, three groups of experts have analyzed and modifiedthe arable crop model in order to obtain suitable tools for assessing the sustainability of field vegetables,pomefruit orchards and grapevine systems. The majority of the modifications brought have involved theparts of the model ruled by technical and scientific knowledge (e.g. determining the fuel consumption), whilefew generic modifications have been brought to the part of the model that is ruled by stakeholder priorities(e.g. relevance of biodiversity in the environmental sustainability). Regarding the second task, the modelstructure has been modified case-by-case, according to the data available in ex post assessment, to integrateprecise quantitative indicators in the qualitative framework. Two case studies have illustrated different waysof joining qualitative and quantitative data to get the best compromise between assessment precision andcomprehensiveness.This work has provided the formalization of a sustainability assessment framework suitable for different assessmentsituations. This articulates (i) a fixed core of generic agricultural sustainability issues hierarchicallyorganized that can be weighted according to stakeholders’ priorities and (ii) a set of indicators that can be flexiblyestimated according to the assessment situation. Providing a shared and generic structure of assessmentcan positively harmonize, among various crop production systems, the way for setting goals and organizingthem into a hierarchy, identifying bottlenecks and recommending adjustments towards more sustainability.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 10:03:23 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 15, 2021 - 2:56:48 PM
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  • HAL Id : hal-02739544, version 1
  • PRODINRA : 355246

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Frédérique Angevin, Aude Alaphilippe, Christian Bockstaller, Gabriele Fortino, Christian Gary, et al.. Assessing the sustainability of crop production systems: is a common framework possible?. IPM Innovation in Europe, Jan 2015, Pozland, Poland. 174 p. ⟨hal-02739544⟩

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