IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Eco-efficiency of Alternative Cropping Systems Managed in an Agricultural Watershed


  • Yiridoe, Emmanuel K.
  • Amon-Armah, Frederick
  • Hebb, Dale
  • Jamieson, Rob


The eco-efficiency index (EEI) framework has been used to determine economically and environmentally optimal nitrogen (N) fertilizer application rates for some pollutants (such as greenhouse gas emissions) for selected agricultural production systems. However, previous EEI applications have not examined N application rates linked to nitrate-N loss from crop production. The research gap is surprising given the importance of nutrient N in crop production and concerns with nitrate-N in groundwater systems. Eco-efficiency of crop production systems are increased for farm management practices which generate higher economic returns and lower negative environmental impacts and, therefore are considered more eco-efficient. Data for the analysis were generated using the SWAT biophysical simulation modeling. The cropping systems evaluated in this study included: i) corn-based cropping systems involving corn-corn-alfalfa-alfalfa-alfalfa (CCAAA), and CCCAA rotations; ii) potato-based cropping systems involving potato-corn-barley-potato-corn (PCBPC) and PBWPC; and iii) vegetable-horticulture cropping system involving potato-winter wheat-potato-carrot-corn (PWRC) all managed under conventional tillage (CT) and no-till (NT) systems. Estimated eco-efficient N fertilizer rates were substantially lower than current NMP-recommended rates (NMP N rates) and the maximum economic rate nitrogen fertilization (MERN). However, the actual amounts depended on the crop and rotation system. CCAAA-CT was the most eco-efficient rotation choice among the corn-based cropping systems considered. Similarly, PCBPC-CT was the most eco-efficient choice among the potato-based production systems. In addition, when the NMP-recommended N rate was replaced by the EE N rate for the vegetable horticulture cropping system, the eco-efficient cropping system shifted from a rotation involving CT to a NT system. Eco-efficient N fertilization rates that explicitly simultaneously considers economic and environmental dimensions of cropping system performance will require substantial trade-offs between farm returns and reduction in nitrate pollution.

Suggested Citation

  • Yiridoe, Emmanuel K. & Amon-Armah, Frederick & Hebb, Dale & Jamieson, Rob, 2013. "Eco-efficiency of Alternative Cropping Systems Managed in an Agricultural Watershed," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150357, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:150357

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Satya Yadav & Willis Peterson & K. Easter, 1997. "Do farmers overuse nitrogen fertilizer to the detriment of the environment?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 9(3), pages 323-340, April.
    2. Rajsic, Predrag & Weersink, Alfons, 2008. "Do farmers waste fertilizer? A comparison of ex post optimal nitrogen rates and ex ante recommendations by model, site and year," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 97(1-2), pages 56-67, April.
    3. Van Meensel, Jef & Lauwers, Ludwig & Van Huylenbroeck, Guido & Van Passel, Steven, 2010. "Comparing frontier methods for economic-environmental trade-off analysis," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 207(2), pages 1027-1040, December.
    4. Zeyuan Qiu, 2005. "Using Multi-Criteria Decision Models to Assess the Economic and Environmental Impacts of Farming Decisions in an Agricultural Watershed," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 27(2), pages 229-244.
    5. Yiridoe, Emmanuel K. & Weersink, Alfons, 1998. "Marginal Abatement Costs Of Reducing Groundwater-N Pollution With Intensive And Extensive Farm Management Choices," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 27(2), October.
    6. José A. Gómez-Limón & Andrés J. Picazo-Tadeo & Ernest Reig-Martínez, 2011. "Eco-efficiency Assessment of Olive Farms in Andalusia," Working Papers 1105, Department of Applied Economics II, Universidad de Valencia.
    7. Glenn Sheriff, 2005. "Efficient Waste? Why Farmers Over-Apply Nutrients and the Implications for Policy Design," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 27(4), pages 542-557.
    8. Jollands, Nigel & Lermit, Jonathan & Patterson, Murray, 2004. "Aggregate eco-efficiency indices for New Zealand – a Principal Components Analysis," 2004 Conference, June 25-26, 2004, Blenheim, New Zealand 97773, New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    9. Van Passel, Steven & Nevens, Frank & Mathijs, Erik & Van Huylenbroeck, Guido, 2007. "Measuring farm sustainability and explaining differences in sustainable efficiency," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 149-161, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Eco-efficiency; agricultural sustainability; nitrogen fertilizer; nitrate-N pollution; Crop Production/Industries; Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy; Q57; Q12; Q14;

    JEL classification:

    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • Q14 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Finance

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:150357. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.