Quantifying the sustainability of agriculture

M.G. Bos*, H. van den Bosch, H. Diemont, J. Lahr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The rural sustainability index is a scientifically based tool to quantify the performance of agriculture. The sustainability of crop production is quantified from three perspectives; people, planet and profit. Within each perspective, one condition was selected that must be met to warrant agriculture. These are: No hazardous work should be used within the crop production chain; agricultural crops should not be grown on land allocated to nature by national law or regulations and, when a GM-crop is present or is introduced in a region, it should not harm development opportunities of other farmers. If these excluding conditions are met, the sustainability of agriculture is assessed through five performance indicators on school attendance, water use and consumption, fertilizer use, pesticide use, and farm income. For each of the five indicators, critical values and target values have been given that limit the transition range between non-sustainable and sustainable production. The five indicators are combined into a sustainability index. The index aims at improving the socio-economic position of farmers while protecting the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalIrrigation and drainage systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • WRS
  • ADLIB-ART-3139
  • Agriculture
  • Sustainability
  • Crop production
  • Water
  • Nutrients
  • Pest control
  • Pesticides
  • Environment
  • Income
  • Education


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