The term agro-environmental sustainability in agriculture usually refers to farming intensity. Lower intensity farming can be managed by reducing chemical and energy inputs. Beyond ethical issues and having in mind only agronomic aspects, cropping systems are defined by regulations that classify them according to their different input levels as conventional (most intensive), integrated (intermediate intensity), and organic (least intensive). Among organic cropping systems, it is expected that the most intense cropping level would be arable farms where there is a greater need to import input factors, and the least intense level would be livestock farms. This research aims to systematically grade conventional, integrated, and organic cropping systems using a set of 22 indicators of input and environmental pressure. The grading results will then be compared to regulation-defined intensities. Eight cropping systems belonging to four intensification levels were analysed by an indicator set classified as driving force or pressure indicators per the DPSIR schema. Driving forces represented farmer management decisions; pressures represented stressors to the environment resulting from agricultural activities not directly modifiable by the farmer. The 22 indicators analyse five aspects of cropping system: land use, fertiliser use, pesticide use, energy use and gaseous emissions. Study results showed that most indicators were able to accurately grade the cropping system intensities. Specific driving forces and pressures indicators that failed to grade the cropping systems as expected related to several explainable factors. For driving force indicators, conventional systems demonstrated the highest impact on the environment and arable organic cropping systems the lowest. For pressure indicators, conventional cropping system presented the highest impact, followed by integrated cropping systems. In this case the arable organic cropping system presented a higher impact than did the livestock organic system. This level of discrimination showed that pressure indicators performed better at grading system intensification than did driving force indicators. As a consequence, the analysis showed that higher input levels do not always result in higher pressures on the environment. Therefore, the environment would be better served by regulations that set thresholds for pressures rather than system inputs. The results also underlined that practices such as manure use and meadow presence improve the environmental performances of cropping systems.

Cropping system intensification grading using an agro-environmental indicator set in northern Italy

GAUDINO, Stefano;GOIA, IRENE;BORREANI, Giorgio;TABACCO, Ernesto;SACCO, Dario
2014

Abstract

The term agro-environmental sustainability in agriculture usually refers to farming intensity. Lower intensity farming can be managed by reducing chemical and energy inputs. Beyond ethical issues and having in mind only agronomic aspects, cropping systems are defined by regulations that classify them according to their different input levels as conventional (most intensive), integrated (intermediate intensity), and organic (least intensive). Among organic cropping systems, it is expected that the most intense cropping level would be arable farms where there is a greater need to import input factors, and the least intense level would be livestock farms. This research aims to systematically grade conventional, integrated, and organic cropping systems using a set of 22 indicators of input and environmental pressure. The grading results will then be compared to regulation-defined intensities. Eight cropping systems belonging to four intensification levels were analysed by an indicator set classified as driving force or pressure indicators per the DPSIR schema. Driving forces represented farmer management decisions; pressures represented stressors to the environment resulting from agricultural activities not directly modifiable by the farmer. The 22 indicators analyse five aspects of cropping system: land use, fertiliser use, pesticide use, energy use and gaseous emissions. Study results showed that most indicators were able to accurately grade the cropping system intensities. Specific driving forces and pressures indicators that failed to grade the cropping systems as expected related to several explainable factors. For driving force indicators, conventional systems demonstrated the highest impact on the environment and arable organic cropping systems the lowest. For pressure indicators, conventional cropping system presented the highest impact, followed by integrated cropping systems. In this case the arable organic cropping system presented a higher impact than did the livestock organic system. This level of discrimination showed that pressure indicators performed better at grading system intensification than did driving force indicators. As a consequence, the analysis showed that higher input levels do not always result in higher pressures on the environment. Therefore, the environment would be better served by regulations that set thresholds for pressures rather than system inputs. The results also underlined that practices such as manure use and meadow presence improve the environmental performances of cropping systems.
ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS
40
76
89
http://www.sciencedirect.com
S. Gaudino; I. Goia; G. Borreani; E. Tabacco; D. Sacco
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
PostPrint Gaudino bio.pdf

embargo fino al 04/02/2016

Tipo di file: POSTPRINT (VERSIONE FINALE DELL’AUTORE)
Dimensione 536.11 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
536.11 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri
gaudino2014 ecological indicator offprint.pdf

non disponibili

Tipo di file: PDF EDITORIALE
Dimensione 2.5 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
2.5 MB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Richiedi una copia

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/144457
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 24
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 23
social impact