Paving the way to a sustainability assessment of farming systems

AB 188 Nachhaltigkeitsbewerung landwirtschaftlicher Systeme
TAB Working Report No. 188: Sustainability assessment of agricultural systems - challenges and perspectives
Sustainability assessement farming systems
TAB-Fokus no. 27: Paving the way to a sustainability assessment of farming systems

For years there is an ongoing broad and controversial debate in Germany and other countries about which forms of agriculture best match a sustainable agriculture and how progress towards an ecological, social and economic sustainability can be achieved. Policy Brief TAB-Fokus no. 27 to the detailed TAB working report summarises the possibilities of a comparative sustainability assessment of farming systems in order to generate more differentiated information on sustainability of farming systems.

The first part of the working report deals with the development of agricultural structure in Germany and the effects of their structural change on the sustainability of agriculture. Overall, the relationship between structural change in agriculture on the one hand and economic, social and ecological sustainability on the other presents a mixed picture.

In the second part, the available and used approaches for the sustainability assessment of individual farms, selected value chains or products (e.g. palm oil, soy) as well as the entire agricultural sector are presented. Sustainability assessments for aggregation levels between the individual farm and the entire agricultural sector, on the other hand, have hardly been carried out to date.

In order to arrive at approaches for a sustainability assessment of farming systems as an orientation framework for an economically viable, socially and environmentally compatible design of future agricultural and environmental policy, the third part reviews the current state of knowledge on the comparison of conventional and organic agriculture with regard to their sustainability impacts and identifies any remaining gaps and methodological weaknesses. The need for action necessary for the (further) development of a sustainability assessment of agricultural systems is identified.

Policy brief TAB-Fokus no. 27  and TAB Report (only in German) are available online. 

Further information