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Metrics for Agricultural Sustainability

ISBN: 9780415627122 | 0415627125
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Routledge
Pub. Date: 5/5/2015

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Sustainable agriculture initiatives, led by a variety of private producers, NGOs and governmental agencies, are emerging around the world. The debate in agricultural sustainability begins with the definition of sustainability. Most authorities explain sustainable agriculture by practice, such as organic or local. Several initiatives of US producers have defined agricultural sustainability based upon impacts on the supply network, from extraction to disposal (also called outcomes metrics). The outcomes metrics of impacts for sustainable agriculture are defined by boundaries such as farm gate, factory gate, and consumer use and disposal. However, these metrics have not been well described or inventoried, resulting in confusion and misuse of information. This book clarifies this confusion, by providing an inventory of the metrics for sustainable agriculture from cradle to the farm gate, organized by media and scale. Example metrics include change in soil organic carbon as an integrating metric for soil health, change in groundwater level as a metric of over-withdrawal, current and change in land use diversity as an integrating metric for biodiversity, and farm worker education as an integrating metric of social prosperity. These metrics are informative at the individual level, but are shown collectively to provide a more complete understanding of the risks and opportunities for innovation and consumer acceptance across agricultural and food production systems. The book describes the process of integrating metrics into indices for decision-making, with examples from the US, Europe, and Asia.


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