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Peer-Review Record

Can the Adoption of Protected Cultivation Facilities Affect Farm Sustainability?

Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 9970;
by Pei-An Liao 1, Jhih-Yun Liu 2, Lih-Chyun Sun 3,* and Hung-Hao Chang 4,*
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3:
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 9970;
Submission received: 27 October 2020 / Revised: 20 November 2020 / Accepted: 26 November 2020 / Published: 28 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farming 4.0: Towards Sustainable Agriculture)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

Dear Authors,

The topic discussed in the manuscript is interesting and current. Manuscript is logical and well written.

I propose a few changes:
1. Put a hypothesis / hypotheses in the introduction.

2. Change figure 1. Legend is too small. What does an empty square on the legend?

3. The "discussion" section should be significantly expanded. There should be more references to other studies here, which is a real discussion.

4. There was no information about the methods of analysis used in other studies.




Author Response

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Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Reviewer 2 Report

The paper is well structured and the methodology well described. How was the survey carried out? Over 250,000 people were interviewed? Or did you use digital tools?

I suggest to read "Vecchio, Y., Agnusdei, G. P., Miglietta, P. P., & Capitanio, F. (2020). Adoption of precision farming tools: the case of italian farmers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health17(3), 869.".

You could cite precision farming strategy to support the protection of cultivation.



Author Response

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Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Reviewer 3 Report

Some general considerations

In the introduction authors stated that the three pillars of sustainability (environmental health, economic profitability and social equity) are re-enforcing and this is a non-peaceful assumption. For example the replacement of work with capital, could have a negative impact on a social level but positive on the business economy. About environmental sustainability, while It is generally agreed that protected cultivation is an efficient way to increase resilience to climatic perturbations, it is not always true that these facilities ensure a more environmentally friendly farming. Greenhouse cultivation could create environmental issues of different kinds, the use of energy for heating and lighting and pollution by pesticides and nutrients are major known problems, but impacts on the landscape and light emissions from supplementary lighting have also attracted attention. I think that the authors should also mention the negative aspects, which are related to these techniques. Moreover, the paper empirically addressed the effects of protected cultivation techniques on the economic sustainability of farms, while the environmental consequences are not analysed; therefore I would not dwell much on the "positive" effects on the environment of the protected cultivation, as the authors do.

Empirically, the paper wanted to verify whether farms adopting protected farming experienced higher economic performances. To do this, the authors regressed a treatment variable (a dummy), associated to adopters (treated group) and non-adopters (control group), on several economic measures of farm performance, including control variables. However, they also estimated the determinants of adoption, employing a probit model to estimate the probability of being adopters. This makes the paper an interesting reading for researchers in this topic, as it both provides: i) the determinants of adoption and ii) if and how higher are the economic benefits to farmers involved in adoption of protected cultivations respect to those are no adopters.

However, some methodological challenges derive from the estimation of differences in economic performance explained from adoption. For instance, a selection bias could derive from the presence of some (farmers and farms) characteristics, which could affect both the farmers’ choice of adoption and farms’ outcomes.

The endogeneity problem of treatment variable was solved using different methods for the main equation: propensity score matching (PSM), inverse probability weighting (IPW) and inverse probability weighting regression adjustment (IPWRA). However, these procedure, while solving the selection bias related to observable characteristics, they don’t take into account unobservable characteristics of the farmers, that could presumably affect the selection. As the authors themselves underline, for example, the farmer's risk aversion could affect both the choice of adoption and farm’s economic performance. It is not very clear how they solve the problem of unobservable variables. Authors should better clarify if and how these methods solve selection on un-observables in the materials and methods, referring to the appendix for more details.

Others minor comments:

Row 103: it would be helpful if authors explain better the difference among 4 types.

Row 174: explain better how risk aversion directly affects profits, or why a more risk averse farmer receives higher farm profit.

Table 2 I suggest to change in “Estimation results of the probability of protected cultivation adoption”

Author Response

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Author Response File: Author Response.docx

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