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Abstract

Developing the capacity to assess and chart trends in the sustainability of farming and food production is becoming increasingly more important as agriculture strives to produce more food while minimising the risk to the natural environment. The multi-faceted nature of sustainability is encompassed in economic, environmental, social and innovation indicators. This paper outlines the development of farm level indicators for these sustainability criteria in Ireland. A comparison of indicators across farm systems shows that dairy farms, followed by tillage farms, tend to be the most economically and socially sustainable farm systems. Interestingly, in relation to greenhouse gas emissions in particular, the top performing farms in an economic sense also tend to be the best performing farms from an environmental sustainability perspective. This trend is also evident in terms of the adoption of innovative practices on farm, which is found to be strongly positively correlated with economic performance.

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