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Emergy assessment of three home courtyard agriculture production systems in Tibet Autonomous Region, China

Guan, Fa-chun, Sha, Zhi-peng, Zhang, Yu-yang, Wang, Jun-feng, Wang, Chao
Journal of Zhejiang University 2016 v.17 no.8 pp. 628-639
corn, ecosystem services, emergy, geese, models, planting, plateaus, product safety, production technology, China
Home courtyard agriculture is an important model of agricultural production on the Tibetan plateau. Because of the sensitive and fragile plateau environment, it needs to have optimal performance characteristics, including high sustainability, low environmental pressure, and high economic benefit. Emergy analysis is a promising tool for evaluation of the environmental-economic performance of these production systems. In this study, emergy analysis was used to evaluate three courtyard agricultural production models: Raising Geese in Corn Fields (RGICF), Conventional Corn Planting (CCP), and Pea-Wheat Rotation (PWR). The results showed that the RGICF model produced greater economic benefits, and had higher sustainability, lower environmental pressure, and higher product safety than the CCP and PWR models. The emergy yield ratio (EYR) and emergy self-support ratio (ESR) of RGICF were 0.66 and 0.11, respectively, lower than those of the CCP production model, and 0.99 and 0.08, respectively, lower than those of the PWR production model. The impact of RGICF (1.45) on the environment was lower than that of CCP (2.26) and PWR (2.46). The emergy sustainable indices (ESIs) of RGICF were 1.07 and 1.02 times higher than those of CCP and PWR, respectively. With regard to the emergy index of product safety (EIPS), RGICF had a higher safety index than those of CCP and PWR. Overall, our results suggest that the RGICF model is advantageous and provides higher environmental benefits than the CCP and PWR systems.