Influence of farm resource endowment on possibilities for sustainable development: a case study for vegetable farms in South Uruguay

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In different parts of the world, there is an urgent need for redesigning and innovating farming systems. Such a process may be supported by model-based explorations that enable ex-ante evaluation of a broad range of alternatives. Since a variety of viable patterns of farm development exists related to farm resource endowment and farmer's strategy, model-based explorations should be able to capture the existing variation in resource endowment and strategies in order to have impact on strategic farm management. In this paper, we present an overview of the model-based explorative method based on the MILP model Farm Images, applied to explore options for sustainable development of vegetable farms in Canelón Grande, Uruguay. The method is used to gain insight into the impact of current farm resource endowment on the possibilities for sustainable development and on the resource use efficiency at farm scale. We maximized farm income for 128 different farm types in an environment-oriented scenario and in an income-oriented scenario. Farm types were defined by combining 4 farm sizes, 2 labor endowments, 4 irrigation endowments, 2 soil quality combinations and 2 mechanization levels. The results demonstrate a strong impact of farm resource endowment on possibilities for sustainable development, as well as synergy between labor, land and irrigated area on resource-use efficiency at farm scale. Farms with 10 ha of land or less, representing 47% of the farms in the Canelón Grande region, could only achieve a family income higher than the average income of Uruguayan families when the irrigated area was ca. 40% of the farm area. The achievement of environmental targets was less costly in terms of income on farms with a low rather than high labor availability per unit area and on farms with irrigation facilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-315
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • production systems
  • cropping systems
  • land-use
  • rotations
  • options
  • models
  • tool


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