In: Methods and Procedures for Building Sustainable Farming Systems : application in the European Context / Marta-Costa, A.A., Soares da Silva, E.L.D.G., Berlin, Germany : Springer Verlag - ISBN 9789400750029 - p. 123 - 137.
In this study, we investigated the elements that must be considered to obtain a clear and useful assessment of sustainability. We present a system-description tool created especially for life cycle assessment (assessment of energy use and ecotoxicity), environmental risk assessment, and full-cost calculations. Using the various results from these assessments as qualitative attributes, we designed a multi-attribute tool that allows us to integrate sustainability attributes over five levels into an overall sustainability rating. To demonstrate the transparency of this method and how it enables decision makers to deal with complexity, we use the method to assess different crop protection systems used in apple production. Although the multi-attribute decision method provided a reasonable overall assessment of the sustainability of different protection systems, the assessment could be substantially influenced by the selection of rating scales and decision rules. Therefore, the rating scales and decision rules should be carefully defined and discussed among the research teams. In our case, experts have participated from five European countries
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