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Abstract

Sustainable agriculture is a holistic approach to produce food, fiber, feed and fuel in a way that does not damage the environment and also must meet the needs of the present and future population of the world, while considering agro-ecosystem health, social and economic equity and profitability. Therefore, the sustainable agriculture cannot be isolated from the concept of sustainable development in any country or region. The current survey was conducted in order to study the sustainability of agricultural systems in Golestan Province in the north of Iran during the period of 2002-2011. The required data were obtained from formal statistical database. The total numerical value of sustainability was calculated for individual years using 21 different indexes. Because of the diverse nature of the selected indexes and their wide range, they were normalized to facilitate their comparison. The results show that the agricultural sustainability has been increased significantly over the studied period. The lowest value of sustainability was observed in the first year of the studied period (i.e., 2002) but the highest value was calculated for 2009 and thereafter the sustainability of agro-ecosystem has decreased slightly. The improvement of sustainability could be attributed to the application of less chemical inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers, higher water and nitrogen use efficiencies, higher yield of different crops, especially dry land crops and the higher cultivation area of nitrogen fixing species.

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