Keywords: emergy accounting, sustainable agriculture, Rolling Pampas, agri-environmental policies, Argentina, economic deregulation, trade liberalisation, ecological sustainability, sustainable development
Emergy analysis of one century of agricultural production in the Rolling Pampas of Argentina
Historically, agricultural production in the Rolling Pampas of Argentina was characterised by low use of synthetic inputs. This changed during the 1990s, with the widespread adoption of technology privileged by neoclassical macroeconomic policies implemented in the same decade. In this paper, Emergy Accounting is used to quantitatively assess the ecological sustainability of agricultural systems in the region throughout the 20th century. Economic deregulation and trade liberalisation have led to an increase in productivity, but have also increased dependency on non-renewable resources. As the ecological and socioeconomic implications of intensification become more controversial, there is an urgent need for integrated, multiscale and multi-disciplinary monitoring and research. Moreover, there is a greater need for a broader, critical and inclusive debate to redefine the role and shape of sustainable agriculture in the Rolling Pampas. Emergy accounting, an evolving methodology that brings ecological imperatives to the forefront of evaluation, constitutes a valuable tool for such a debate.