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Applying the concept of sustainable intensification to Scottish Agriculture


  • Barnes, Andrew Peter
  • Poole, C.E.Z.


A number of influential policy circles have championed the concept of sustainable intensification (SI) as a technology to meet the challenge of a growing population. Various definitions exist for sustainable intensification, but the concept is driven by future constraints on land use. Most of the work directed at SI has been focused on developing countries, where the imperative for output increases are paramount. Fewer studies have applied the concept to developed economies. This paper examines this concept for Scotland, which is experiencing falls in productivity and has a complex policy arena based on quality rather than quantity improvements. We develop a schema for understanding the concept of sustainable intensification which we argue must develop beyond the provision of eco-systems services and encompass social as well as economic and ethical parameters. We apply these concepts and apply data from the Farm Account Survey for a balanced panel of 42 beef farms within Scotland over the period 2000-2010. A principal components analysis was applied to these data to provide a basis for understanding weighting structures within the various dimensions of sustainability and we find five main components, one of which strongly represents the intensivity but under-represents other sustainability factors. We recommend that regions adopt a definition of sustainable intensification that i) is specific to the production trajectories of that region, ii) provides adequate representation across actors within the food supply chain, and iii) offer clarity for measurement. The conceptualisation of sustainable intensification along these lines would, we recommend, allow key members of the food supply chain to develop specific solutions to divert from future projected problems in food production.

Suggested Citation

  • Barnes, Andrew Peter & Poole, C.E.Z., 2012. "Applying the concept of sustainable intensification to Scottish Agriculture," 86th Annual Conference, April 16-18, 2012, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 134710, Agricultural Economics Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aesc12:134710

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    sustainable intensification; beef production; Scotland; Livestock Production/Industries; O33; Q16;

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services

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