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Trade‐off analysis for agro‐ecological indicators: application of Sustainable Solution Space to maize cropping systems in northern Italy


Castoldi, N; Schmid, A; Bechini, L; Binder, C R (2010). Trade‐off analysis for agro‐ecological indicators: application of Sustainable Solution Space to maize cropping systems in northern Italy. In: Darnhofer, I. Building sustainable rural futures : the added value of systems approaches in times of change and uncertainty; 9th European IFSA Symposium; 4‐7 July 2010 in Vienna, Austria; proceedings. Wien: BOKU : Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, 850-860.

Abstract

The sustainability of cropping systems is usually evaluated by considering each aspect separately, without considering the trade‐offs within or among aspects. We applied Sustainability Solution Space approach (SSP) to analyse the trade‐offs among ecological and economic indicators for 125 maize “crops” (crop × field × year combinations) in seven farms monitored during 2005‐2006 in northern Italy. Nine indicators were selected to describe the economic and energetic management characteristics, the nutrient surpluses, and pesticides potential impacts. In a first step, an initial sustainability range was defined for each indicator. This led to a Sustainability Space, a nine‐dimensions hyper‐volume, including all possible combination of indicators. In a second step, the correlation between the indicators was determined. The strongest correlations were used in the SSP algorithm to shrink the hyper‐volume, defining the SSP that includes all the realistic sustainable combinations of crop management. Our results showed that only seven crops were very close to SSP, while 23 had all indicators within the initial sustainable hyper‐volume, but not in the final SSP. The crucial aspects when calculating the SSP are: i) the definition of the initial sustainability ranges and ii) the number of interactions considered. Therefore, a sensitivity analysis was carried out in order to analyse the robustness of the SSP approach. The weak correlations had a low effect in the SSP; hence at least the application of strongest correlation is enough. In addition, the application of different initial sustainable ranges produced different SSPs, but the differences obtained for each indicator were not large.

Abstract

The sustainability of cropping systems is usually evaluated by considering each aspect separately, without considering the trade‐offs within or among aspects. We applied Sustainability Solution Space approach (SSP) to analyse the trade‐offs among ecological and economic indicators for 125 maize “crops” (crop × field × year combinations) in seven farms monitored during 2005‐2006 in northern Italy. Nine indicators were selected to describe the economic and energetic management characteristics, the nutrient surpluses, and pesticides potential impacts. In a first step, an initial sustainability range was defined for each indicator. This led to a Sustainability Space, a nine‐dimensions hyper‐volume, including all possible combination of indicators. In a second step, the correlation between the indicators was determined. The strongest correlations were used in the SSP algorithm to shrink the hyper‐volume, defining the SSP that includes all the realistic sustainable combinations of crop management. Our results showed that only seven crops were very close to SSP, while 23 had all indicators within the initial sustainable hyper‐volume, but not in the final SSP. The crucial aspects when calculating the SSP are: i) the definition of the initial sustainability ranges and ii) the number of interactions considered. Therefore, a sensitivity analysis was carried out in order to analyse the robustness of the SSP approach. The weak correlations had a low effect in the SSP; hence at least the application of strongest correlation is enough. In addition, the application of different initial sustainable ranges produced different SSPs, but the differences obtained for each indicator were not large.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:18 Feb 2011 15:31
Last Modified:17 Feb 2018 18:45
Publisher:BOKU : Universität für Bodenkultur Wien
ISBN:978‐3‐200‐01908‐9
Additional Information:9th European IFSA Symposium 4‐7 July 2010 in Vienna, Austria
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://ifsa.boku.ac.at/cms/fileadmin/Proceeding2010/2010_WS2.1_Castoldi.pdf
Related URLs:http://ifsa.boku.ac.at/cms/index.php?id=107 (Publisher)

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