Constructing a farm level indicator of sustainable agricultural practice

D. Rigby, P. Woodhouse, T. Young, Michael Burton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    271 Citations (Scopus)


    There has been a concerted effort since the Rio Earth Summit to construct indicators to monitor progress towards sustainable development. This has included indicators of sustainable land management, land quality indicators and indicators of sustainable agriculture. It is argued in this paper that the design and use of such indicators can be extremely useful in that they force those involved in the discussion of sustainability to identify the key aspects of sustainable agriculture and to assign weights to them. In this process the discussion of sustainability may be coaxed from the realms of general discussion and abstraction to a more operational context, and ultimately to the discussion and classification of actual practices and farms. To this end, a farm-level indicator of agricultural sustainability, based on patterns of input use, is constructed for a sample of 80 organic and 157 conventional producers in the UK. The paper serves to highlight some of the conceptual issues, examines some of the technical issues and choices associated with indicator construction, and informs discussion of the relationship between organic production and agricultural sustainability. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)463-478
    JournalEcological Economics
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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