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Sustainability assessment of crop protection systems: SustainOS methodology and its application for apple orchards


  • Mouron, Patrik
  • Heijne, Bart
  • Naef, Andreas
  • Strassemeyer, Jörn
  • Hayer, Frank
  • Avilla, Jesus
  • Alaphilippe, Aude
  • Höhn, Heinrich
  • Hernandez, José
  • Mack, Gabriele
  • Gaillard, Gérard
  • Solé, Joan
  • Sauphanor, Benoit
  • Patocchi, Andrea
  • Samietz, Jörg
  • Bravin, Esther
  • Lavigne, Claire
  • Bohanec, Marko
  • Golla, Burkhard
  • Scheer, Christian
  • Aubert, Ursula
  • Bigler, Franz


Crop protection in general and apple crop protection in particular often rely on pesticides, although several alternative pest management measures are available. In this context European agricultural policy requires the implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by 2014. Within IPM, more than one strategy can be practiced but selecting the most sustainable strategy is difficult because it requires simultaneous assessment of multiple environmental and economic aspects or attributes. Here, we introduce the SustainOS methodology for sustainability assessment of orchard systems, and we evaluate its usefulness in a case study involving four crop protection strategies in apple orchards of five European regions. SustainOS is an iterative, multi-attribute approach for defining and rating the sustainability of crop protection strategies in comparative studies. It consists of a transparent system-description tool including context, target, and crop protection parameters. The parameters are used as input data for life cycle assessment, environmental risk assessment, and full-cost calculations. The various results from these quantitative assessments are used to generate a multi-attribute rating with respect to ecological and economic sustainability. We demonstrate how the quantitative results can be translated into rating classes. By applying the SustainOS methodology, we show that the ecological sustainability for all five regions can potentially be improved by implementing alternative crop protection measures currently available. We also report that, by increasing yield, yield stability, and fruit quality, implementation of IPM can improve the economic situation of apple growers. Because of its transparency, SustainOS facilitated the collaborative development and comparison of crop protection strategies for sustainable orchard systems by an international network of agronomists, economists, and environmental scientists.

Suggested Citation

  • Mouron, Patrik & Heijne, Bart & Naef, Andreas & Strassemeyer, Jörn & Hayer, Frank & Avilla, Jesus & Alaphilippe, Aude & Höhn, Heinrich & Hernandez, José & Mack, Gabriele & Gaillard, Gérard & Solé, Joa, 2012. "Sustainability assessment of crop protection systems: SustainOS methodology and its application for apple orchards," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1-15.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:113:y:2012:i:c:p:1-15 DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2012.07.004

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dogliotti, S. & Rossing, W. A. H. & van Ittersum, M. K., 2004. "Systematic design and evaluation of crop rotations enhancing soil conservation, soil fertility and farm income: a case study for vegetable farms in South Uruguay," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 277-302, June.
    2. Mouron, Patrik & Scholz, Roland W. & Nemecek, Thomas & Weber, Olaf, 2006. "Life cycle management on Swiss fruit farms: Relating environmental and income indicators for apple-growing," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 561-578, June.
    3. repec:eee:ecomod:v:215:y:2008:i:1:p:247-261 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Znidarsic, Martin & Bohanec, Marko & Zupan, Blaz, 2008. "Modelling impacts of cropping systems: Demands and solutions for DEX methodology," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 189(3), pages 594-608, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Patrik Mouron & Chiara Calabrese & Stève Breitenmoser & Simon Spycher & Robert Baur, 2016. "Sustainability Assessment of Plant Protection Strategies in Swiss Winter Wheat and Potato Production," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(1), pages 1-17, January.
    2. repec:eee:agisys:v:153:y:2017:i:c:p:81-93 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Lefebvre, M. & Biguzzi, C. & Ginon, E. & Gomez y Paloma, Sergio & Langrell, S. R. H. & Marette, S. & Mateu, G. & Sutan, A., 2015. "Mandatory Integrated Pest Management in the European Union: Experimental insights on consumers' reactions," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212038, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    4. repec:gam:jagris:v:6:y:2016:i:1:p:3:d:62011 is not listed on IDEAS


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