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Agronomy 2018, 8(7), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8070098

Environmental Sustainability Assessment of Horticultural Systems: A Multi-Criteria Evaluation Approach Applied in a Case Study in Mediterranean Conditions

1
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics—Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment, CREA-AA, Via Celso Ulpiani 5, 70125 Bari, Italy
2
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics—Research Centre for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, CREA-OF, Via Salaria 1, 63030 Monsampolo del Tronto (AP), Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 May 2018 / Revised: 17 June 2018 / Accepted: 20 June 2018 / Published: 22 June 2018
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Abstract

An increasing interest and sensitivity of consumers and public opinion toward high-quality food products obtained with environmentally-friendly production methods has recently been detected. To this end, one of the key roles could be played by an environmental evaluation of the crop production. This research was performed to test a new multi-attribute decision model (DEXi-met) that is able to estimate the environmental sustainability of different agronomic practices in horticultural rotations. The model was used at the cropping system level on the basis of data from a long-term experiment in organic horticulture. It was tested on different cropping managements under climate change conditions. The DEXi-met mixed model (qualitative and qualitative basic attributes) generated four aggregated attributes to assess sustainability indicators (production capacity, soil, water and resources preservation, and biodiversity conservation) and the overall environmental sustainability. The model validation indicated that the introduction of agro-ecological services crops can increase the environmental sustainability of an organic cropping systems by promoting the whole soil–plant system equilibrium. The application of this tool could help maximize the efficient use of agronomical practices and quantify their environmental sustainability. DEXi-met could help agricultural advisors and policymakers schedule their decisions to find the right compromise between crop yield increase and the impact of agricultural activities. View Full-Text
Keywords: multi-attribute model; DEXi-met; qualitative and quantitative attributes; environmental sustainability; agronomical practices; organic horticulture; climate change multi-attribute model; DEXi-met; qualitative and quantitative attributes; environmental sustainability; agronomical practices; organic horticulture; climate change
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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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Montemurro, F.; Persiani, A.; Diacono, M. Environmental Sustainability Assessment of Horticultural Systems: A Multi-Criteria Evaluation Approach Applied in a Case Study in Mediterranean Conditions. Agronomy 2018, 8, 98.

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