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Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1294; doi:10.3390/su8121294

Local versus Global Environmental Performance of Dairying and Their Link to Economic Performance: A Case Study of Swiss Mountain Farms

1
Farm Economics Research Group, Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences ISS, Tänikon 1, Ettenhausen 8356, Switzerland
2
Life Cycle Assessment Research Group, Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences ISS, Reckenholzstrasse 191, Zurich 8046, Switzerland
3
Computer Applications and Business Management in Agriculture, Institute of Farm Management, University of Hohenheim, Schloß, Osthof-Süd, Stuttgart 70593, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jennifer Reeve
Received: 12 August 2016 / Revised: 26 November 2016 / Accepted: 2 December 2016 / Published: 10 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife)
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Abstract

Complying with the carrying capacity of local and global ecosystems is a prerequisite to ensure environmental sustainability. Based on the example of Swiss mountain dairy farms, the goal of our research was firstly to investigate the relationship between farm global and local environmental performance. Secondly, we aimed to analyse the relationship between farm environmental and economic performance. The analysis relied on a sample of 56 Swiss alpine dairy farms. For each farm, the cradle-to-farm-gate life cycle assessment was calculated, and the quantified environmental impacts were decomposed into their on- and off-farm parts. We measured global environmental performance as the digestible energy produced by the farm per unit of global environmental impact generated from cradle-to-farm-gate. We assessed local environmental performance by dividing farm-usable agricultural area by on-farm environmental impact generation. Farm economic performance was measured by work income per family work unit, return on equity and output/input ratio. Spearman’s correlation analysis revealed no significant relationship, trade-offs or synergies between global and local environmental performance indicators. Interestingly, trade-offs were observed far more frequently than synergies. Furthermore, we found synergies between global environmental and economic performance and mostly no significant relationship between local environmental and economic performance. The observed trade-offs between global and local environmental performance mean that, for several environmental issues, any improvement in global environmental performance will result in deterioration of local environmental performance and vice versa. This finding calls for systematic consideration of both dimensions when carrying out farm environmental performance assessments. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable agriculture; environmental sustainability; farm local environmental performance; farm global environmental performance; farm economic performance; life cycle assessment (LCA) sustainable agriculture; environmental sustainability; farm local environmental performance; farm global environmental performance; farm economic performance; life cycle assessment (LCA)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Repar, N.; Jan, P.; Nemecek, T.; Dux, D.; Alig Ceesay, M.; Doluschitz, R. Local versus Global Environmental Performance of Dairying and Their Link to Economic Performance: A Case Study of Swiss Mountain Farms. Sustainability 2016, 8, 1294.

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