Proposal of indicators to assess the sustainability of farming systems in the western region of Uruguay
Keywords:Indicators, evaluation of sustainability, agricultural entrepreuneurs
In the last years, agricultural systems of the western region of Uruguay, have intensified as a consequence of the increase in area of forestry and crops such as soybeans, and the incorporation of new technologies by national and foreign producers. As a result, production and income per hectare have increased, at the expense of higher costs and pressure on natural resources. Conventional analysis methods commonly used to evaluate agricultural systems are inadequate to assess their long term sustainability, as long as they generally include the economic dimension but do not integrate social and environmental dimensions. The central assumption of this study is that the use of indicators that integrate the three dimensions, turns the concept of sustainability operational and improves decision-making on agricultural systems. Through the use of the MESMIS method, and based on a study conducted with a group of agricultural producers, we propose a tool which includes a collection of social, economic and environmental indicators, which aim is to evaluate crop-cattle production systems. In the future, measurement of indicators, monitoring and integration of results using different techniques, will be needed to generate recommendations in order to improve present agricultural systems or to propose alternative systems, which need to be profitable, respectful of the environment and which allow for a better quality of life of farmers and workers in the long term.
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