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Economic and Environmental Performance of Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems: Resilience to Uncertainties and an Opportunity for Sustainable Intensification

Maroua Afi, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Integrated crop-livestock systems are promoted as an alternative for sustainable intensification of food production. They have the potential to offer enhanced input efficiency and maintain a diversified livelihood which plays an important role in building resilience of agricultural systems.This work aims to evaluate the technical efficiency of “Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems” (ICLS), “Specialized Livestock Systems” (SLS) and “Specialized Cropping Systems” (SCS) and to identify the determinants behind inefficiencies in these systems. It also aims to assess the resilience against climate variability and market fluctuations. The first chapter provides a comparative analysis and an overview of technical efficiency assessment of farming systems in 93 counties in the State of Nebraska. The second chapter extends the analysis, to states neighboring Nebraska covering a large area of the Great Plains. We use Agricultural Research Management Survey (ARMS) farm-level data to assess and compare the technical efficiency of operations from different agricultural farming systems using a more comprehensive productivity analysis. The third chapter aims to evaluate the resilience of specialized and integrated farming systems based on resilience capacities that are identified through farm natural, economic and social characteristics.Our findings on the county-level analysis show that there are strong disparities of technical efficiency between different counties in Nebraska with 39 % of SCS counties being fully efficient and operating at metafrontier full capacity compared to other counties. Whereas the farm-level analysis highlighted that ICLS farms in the Great Plains are more efficient and are a successful alternative for sustainable intensification when implemented accurately. In the third chapter, we identified four resilience capacities, Natural and Economic Buffer Capacity, Technology Infrastructure, and Capacity for Learning. Natural buffer capacity is found to play a primordial role in shaping the resilience of farming systems. The ICLS farms are found to be more resilient, thanks to the inherent dynamics of these systems that are built on multiple complementarities and synergies making them more resilient against environmental stress and market fluctuation.

Subject Area

Environmental economics|Sustainability|Agricultural economics

Recommended Citation

Afi, Maroua, "Economic and Environmental Performance of Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems: Resilience to Uncertainties and an Opportunity for Sustainable Intensification" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30813661.