Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 87, Issue 2, pp 169–195 | Cite as

Environmental Assessment of Agriculture at a Regional Scale in the Pampas of Argentina

  • E. F. Viglizzo
  • A. J. Pordomingo
  • M. G. Castro
  • F. A. Lertora


Governments need good information to design policies. However, inthe Argentine Pampas there are neither sufficient knowledge on environmental issues, nor clear perception of environmental alterations across space and time. The general objective of this work was to provide decision makers with a scientifically sound set of indicators aiming at the assessment of current status andfuture trends in the rural environment of this sensitiveregion. As driving criteria to select indicators, weassumed that they had to be sound, simple to calculate,easy to understand, and easily applicable by decision makers. They are related closely to significantecological structures and functions. Twelve basicindicators were identified: (1) land use, (2) fossil energyuse, (3) fossil energy use efficiency, (4) nitrogen (N)balance, (5) phosphorus (P) balance, (6) nitrogencontamination risk, (7) phosphorus contamination risk, (8) pesticide contamination, (9) soil erosion risk, (10) habitatintervention, (11) changes in soil carbon stock, and (12) balance of greenhouse gases. Indicators were geographicallyreferenced using a geographic information system (GIS). Thestrength of this study is not in the absolute value ofenvironmental indicators, but rather in theconceptualization of indicator and the identification ofchanging patterns, gradients and trends in space and time.According to our results, we can not definitely say thatagriculture in the Pampas, as a whole, tends to besustainable or not. While some indicators tend to improve,others keep stable, and the rest worsen. The relative importance among indicators must also be considered. The indicators that showed a negative net change are key to the identification of critical problems that will require special attention in the close future.

agro-environmental assessment Argentine Pampas regional scale sustainability indicators 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. F. Viglizzo
    • 1
  • A. J. Pordomingo
    • 1
  • M. G. Castro
    • 1
  • F. A. Lertora
    • 1
  1. 1.INTA/CONICETCentro Regional La PampaLa PampaArgentina

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