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Conventional, Organic and Polycultural Farming Practices: Material Intensity of Italian Crops and Foodstuffs
Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, Università Politecnica delle Marche, via Brecce Bianche, Ancona 60131, Italy
Received: 13 October 2013; in revised form: 30 November 2013 / Accepted: 2 December 2013 / Published: 9 December 2013
Abstract: Food system sustainability is a major issue of concern for policy makers. Feeding an increasing world population without compromising the endowment of natural resources or worsening the environmental crisis is, indeed, a major challenge. The need to boost sustainable and productive farming systems and enhance resource efficiency has been acknowledged by European Union policy in its 2020 Strategy. This study assesses the impact of some Italian foodstuffs and agricultural products in terms of material requirement, using the Material Input Per Service unit (MIPS) indicator. The conventional, organic and post-organic agricultural practice called Ma-Pi polyculture is investigated. Results show that, in spite of higher yields obtained by conventional agriculture, material efficiency of organic crops and foodstuffs is generally higher. Moreover, a drastic enhancement of material efficiency is achievable using agronomic practices that minimize the employment of external inputs. As a tool for evaluating the environmental sustainability of agricultural products, MIPS allows focusing on a priority policy area, i.e., resource efficiency, which could be easily employed for driving agricultural systems towards a sustainable intensification. Data quality and availability of Material Input (MI) factors remains, however, a constraining issue for the applicability of the indicator.
Keywords: material efficiency; agricultural practices; food; resource consumption; organic; post-organic; sustainability
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MDPI and ACS Style
Mancini, L. Conventional, Organic and Polycultural Farming Practices: Material Intensity of Italian Crops and Foodstuffs. Resources 2013, 2, 628-650.
Mancini L. Conventional, Organic and Polycultural Farming Practices: Material Intensity of Italian Crops and Foodstuffs. Resources. 2013; 2(4):628-650.
Mancini, Lucia. 2013. "Conventional, Organic and Polycultural Farming Practices: Material Intensity of Italian Crops and Foodstuffs." Resources 2, no. 4: 628-650.