Evaluation of Alternative Farming Systems by Multicriteria Analysis
A methodology was presented for selecting a farming system from multiattribute discrete alternatives by multicriteria analysis. An ex ante evaluation of vegetable production systems was performed in addition to a review of previous case studies to demonstrate the usefulness of this methodology and difficulties in applying it. The various methods used in the studies were classified into 3 groups: the compensatory, the non-compensatory, and the distance-based approaches, and were reviewed from a practical viewpoint. Since problems with weighting occurred in many case studies, special attention was paid to weights, especially to their meaning and the way to assess them. On the basis of this discussion, a method using multiattribute value functions was utilized for the evaluation. Labor-saving vegetable production systems under development, in which a self-propelled harvester was introduced and thinning was eliminated, were compared with the conventional system at the farm level based on criteria of profitability and framework characteristics. Determination of which labor-saving production system appears more desirable and a framework to effectively investigate “what-if” questions were provided.