Keywords: sustainable agriculture, farming system analysis, multi-objective integrated representation, MOIR, multi-scale integrated analysis, performance indicators, multi-criteria, rural development, science for governance, sustainability trade-offs, sustainable development
Facing complexity on agro-ecosystems: a new approach to farming system analysis
Sustainability requires the redefinition of the terms of reference for agricultural activities, which must be based on the recognition of multi-functional land use and the complex role that agriculture plays in society. The ability to renegotiate new terms of reference for agriculture, in turn, requires new analytical tools for agriculture analysis to be able to embrace the 'complexity revolution'. This paper presents a novel approach and a tool for integrated analysis of rural development: Multi-Objective Integrated Representation (MOIR). This tool is based on an integrated set of indicators reflecting non-equivalent views of farming systems and their performance (economic, environmental, social), at different scales (household, community, national). The approach helps to establish relations among the changes in values of different indicators. This facilitates a discussion of sustainability trade-offs associated with different scenarios, even when these trade-offs are not commensurable.