Eco-efficiency of cotton-cropping systems in Pakistan: an integrated approach of life cycle assessment and data envelopment analysis
Ullah, A.; Perret, S.R.; Gheewala, S.H.; Soni, P.
Journal of Cleaner Production 134: 623-632
This study investigates the balance between economic and environmental performances of cotton cropping systems in Southern Punjab, Pakistan. Eco-efficiency analysis was performed using Data Envelopment Analysis to integrate economic and environmental performances, which were assessed through life cycle assessment. All 169 cotton cropping systems were individually analyzed. Special attention was paid to farm size as a possible factor of performances variation. The results show that pesticides and fertilizer use, field emissions, field operations and irrigation are the main sources of environmental impacts. It reveals that production of 1 kg of seed cotton delivered at farm gate generates a global warming potential of 3-3.4 kg CO2e and requires 5-6 L of water. Eco-efficiency estimates of small, medium and large sized farms computed on per hectare basis are 0.86, 0.74 and 0.78, respectively, and 0.51, 0.52 and 0.50 respectively when computed on the basis of kilogram of seed cotton. No significant differences of eco-efficiencies per functional unit were observed across farm size categories. Small farms' higher profits counterbalance their significantly higher levels of eutrophication, and balance its overall eco-efficiency with other farm categories. A trade-off analysis tried to identify the farms that would epitomize sustainable cotton production; it shows that it is almost impossible to combine high economic return with low environmental impacts under current context. However some recommendations have been formulated with regards to pesticides and fertilizers use, which may be significantly reduced with no effect on yield, and potentially reduce environmental impacts.