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Sustainable value of degraded soils in China's Loess Plateau: An updated approach

Lingling Hou (), Dana Hoag (), Catherine M.H. Keske and Changhe Lu

Ecological Economics, 2014, vol. 97, issue C, 20-27

Abstract: China's Loess Plateau is a highly distressed region where intensive crop production has been undermined by high soil erosion rates that threaten the long-term livelihood of its inhabitants. Regional policy goals aim to balance economic performance with the sustainable use of natural resources. From a practical perspective, challenges arise when measuring sustainability levels that mix multiple dimensions, scales, and benchmarks. This study addresses these challenges by comparing the sustainability of agricultural systems across varied crops, land types, and cropping techniques in China's Loess Plateau. Sustainability levels for each system are compared to benchmarks using data envelopment analysis, which is then used to calculate a sustainable value (SV). The SV approach provides a monetary measure of sustainability that includes economic, environmental and social dimensions. Results demonstrate that the most sustainable agricultural systems in the Loess Plateau involve machine intensive cropping systems, a corn–soybean–corn rotation, mulching, furrows ridging, and bench terracing.

Keywords: Cropping systems; Loess Plateau, China; Sustainable value (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.10.013

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