Keywords

decision rules, impact matrix, indices, agriculture, environment, multicriteria

Start Date

1-7-2002 12:00 AM

Description

Sustainable agriculture is a complex problem that demands consideration of many interrelated factors, processes, and institutions. Unfortunately, current definitions of sustainability are expansive, and use as a guide for strategic planning or decision making is clouded by ambiguity and a plethora of definitions. Regardless of how sustainability is defined, agricultural producers are interested in developing and evaluating agricultural management systems that are both environmentally sound and economically profitable. There has been a proliferation of decision analysis and economic indicator tools developed to aid producers; however, the tools rarely are used due to excessive complexity or a failure to capture important criteria (e.g., economic, ecological/environmental and social factors) that better represent how producers define “sustainability.” In this paper, we adapt the payoff matrix approach from the financial risk arena to develop a comparable framework for agroecosystem risk. The payoff matrix concept utilizes the probability function for management alternatives to represent multiple pieces of information; a matrix of these vectors allows for development of many types of decision rules (e.g., minimax regret or maximin strategies) that can represent alternative value systems. Instead of a payoff matrix, we create an “impact matrix” that contains a vector of plausible environmental indicators and outcomes for agricultural systems. The result of this research is a tool that allows indicators to be incorporated in an index that can be adapted to different situations, and thus used in a variety of contexts while remaining simple to understand.

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Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Evaluating Agricultural Systems for Environmental Sustainability Using an Impact Matrix Approach

Sustainable agriculture is a complex problem that demands consideration of many interrelated factors, processes, and institutions. Unfortunately, current definitions of sustainability are expansive, and use as a guide for strategic planning or decision making is clouded by ambiguity and a plethora of definitions. Regardless of how sustainability is defined, agricultural producers are interested in developing and evaluating agricultural management systems that are both environmentally sound and economically profitable. There has been a proliferation of decision analysis and economic indicator tools developed to aid producers; however, the tools rarely are used due to excessive complexity or a failure to capture important criteria (e.g., economic, ecological/environmental and social factors) that better represent how producers define “sustainability.” In this paper, we adapt the payoff matrix approach from the financial risk arena to develop a comparable framework for agroecosystem risk. The payoff matrix concept utilizes the probability function for management alternatives to represent multiple pieces of information; a matrix of these vectors allows for development of many types of decision rules (e.g., minimax regret or maximin strategies) that can represent alternative value systems. Instead of a payoff matrix, we create an “impact matrix” that contains a vector of plausible environmental indicators and outcomes for agricultural systems. The result of this research is a tool that allows indicators to be incorporated in an index that can be adapted to different situations, and thus used in a variety of contexts while remaining simple to understand.