Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 19, 2003
Publication Date: July 26, 2004
Citation: Liebig, M.A., Varvel, G.E., Tanaka, D.L., Merrill, S.D., Halvorson, A.D. 2004. Integrated assessment of agroecosystems: Case studies from the great plains and western corn belt. Soil and Water Conserv. Society annual meeting. 24-28 July 2004, St. Paul, MN. Abstract Technical Abstract: Balancing productivity with environmental quality is necessary for agricultural sustainability. Assessment techniques to evaluate agronomic and environmental outcomes within agricultural production systems have been developed to identify management practices that are productive, yet minimize deleterious environmental impacts. Such techniques provide users with an inclusive evaluation of overall system performance. The AgroEcosystem Performance Assessment Tool (AEPAT) was developed to assess the relative sustainability of management practices using agronomic and environmental data. Using multi-objective analysis principles and performance-based index methodology, AEPAT derives a relative ranking of agroecosystem performance among management practices using indicators included in the procedure. Users categorize indicators into key agroecosystem functions (e.g., erosion control, food production, greenhouse gas regulation, nutrient cycling, raw materials production, waste treatment, and water regulation) and define relationships between each indicator and its associated agroecosystem function using appropriate mathematical scoring functions. Scores for individual indicators are summed across agroecosystem functions, while agroecosystem function scores are summed to provide a single value of performance. Users can assign numerical weights to indicators and agroecosystem functions, thereby allowing for context-specific emphasis within an evaluation. To demonstrate the utility of AEPAT, data from two long-term cropping experiments in the Great Plains and western Corn Belt will be used to quantify the relative performance of management practices over time based on relevant agronomic and environmental indicators.