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An integrated multi-criteria analysis for assessing sustainability of agricultural production at regional level

Bartzas Georgios, Komnitsas Konstantinos

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Year 2020
Type of Item Peer-Reviewed Journal Publication
Bibliographic Citation G. Bartzas and K. Komnitsas, "An integrated multi-criteria analysis for assessing sustainability of agricultural production at regional level," Inf. Process. Agric., vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 223-232, Jun. 2020. doi: 10.1016/j.inpa.2019.09.005
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Assessment of agricultural production sustainability is a multi-dimensional task that involves the quantification of various economic, social and environmental indicators at different scales and uncertainty levels. In this context, a particularly challenging approach is proposed involving the appropriate selection of the most representative criteria that ensure economic viability, eco-friendliness and social development, in order to overcome the limitations of other methodological approaches that are often vague and contradictory. In this study, a holistic methodology that integrates life cycle analysis (LCA), environmental risk assessment (ERA) along with on-site farm and regional surveys using the multi-criteria environment of the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) is designed for the identification of the most sustainable agricultural management practices at regional level. Based on a set of 13 representative sub-criteria, the proposed approach was applied to Pistacia vera L. production in Aegina island, Greece, where narrow range of resources is available, groundwater supply is scarce and of poor quality. Overall, three alternative scenarios, i.e. Baseline scenario representing the current production (BL) as well as Composting (CO) and Biochar Use (BU) scenarios aiming at sustainability improvement were investigated. Results of multi-criteria and sensitivity analyses suggest that the optimal sustainable management scenario is CΟ, which involves on-site composting of organic solid waste, mainly produced at farm site, and subsequent application in the field. The proposed methodology shows significant potential as a valuable multi-criteria tool that can be easily adapted at regional level to assist decision makers such as farmers and their associations, policy makers, local and regional authorities to efficiently explore a range of alternative farm management practices and thus identify pathways toward sustainability.

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