Agro-ecological indicators (AEIs) for dairy and mixed farming systems classification: Identifying alternatives for the Cuban livestock sector

F.R. Funes Monzote, M. Monzote, E.A. Lantinga, C.J.F. ter Braak, J.E. Sánchez, H. van Keulen

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Attainment of acceptable levels of land and labor productivity and low external input use is not a mutually exclusive proposition. This study examines characteristics of a range of current specialized dairy farming systems (DFS) and mixed (crop-livestock) farming systems (MFS) in Cuba to determine their efficiency in the process of food and feed production. The central question was whether the favorable results of MFS realized in a small-scale experimental system were also attainable in larger, commercial farms. To this end, we collected data on 93 farms from around the country for a period of 1 year. The farms were classified according to four predictor variables: farm type, years since conversion from DFS to MFS, proportion of land allocated to crops in rotation and farm size. Farms were compared based on 12 pre-selected Agro-Ecological Indicators (AEIs) by using analysis of variance and Tukey's HSD tests. The 12 AEIs were also subjected to a principal components analysis and related to the four predictor variables by reduced-rank regression, also known as redundancy analysis. Three farm types were distinguished: mixed farming experimental (MFe), mixed farming commercial (MFc) and specialized dairy farming (DFS). Total energy output per unit of farm area was on average four to six times higher on the mixed farms than on the specialized dairy farms, while protein output three to four times higher. Milk yield per unit of forage area was highest on MFe (2.4 Mg ha-1 yr-1), followed by MFc (1.7), while it was much lower (0.7) on DFS. The redundancy analysis revealed that MFe did only slightly better than MFc and was most opposite to DFS in terms of AEIs. In conclusion, the previous experimental findings were confirmed nationwide, thus demonstrating the benefits of MFS for agro-ecological performance in Cuba.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-460
JournalJournal of Sustainable Agriculture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • resource
  • sustainability
  • agroecosystems
  • diversity
  • nitrogen
  • agrodiversity
  • productivity
  • allocation
  • carbon
  • areas

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