Assessing sustainability at farm level: an inquiry into methods and indicators

PhD defence, Thursday 11 May 2017. Evelien de Olde

2017.05.11 | Steffi Hjerrild Iversen

Evelien Margriet de Olde

Agriculture contributes significantly to the emission of greenhouse gases and increasingly competes for natural resources such as water, land and fossil energy. Moreover, concerns are raised regarding the economic viability of agriculture, and the impact on public health and animal welfare. During her studies, Evelien de Olde compared tools that assess the environmental, economic and social performance of farms. Information derived from these tools could help farmers to identify opportunities to improve their sustainability performance. Sustainability assessment tools were compared in practice to gain insight into practical requirements, procedures and relevance perceived by farmers. Moreover, an in-depth comparison of four tools was made to study the reliability and validity of assessment results.

The new research findings contribute to the understanding of challenges involved in assessing sustainability in practice. The research revealed critical factors in farmers’ perception of tool relevance and can be used to improve current approaches to assess sustainability at farm level.

The PhD degree was completed at the Department of Engineering, Aarhus University, in collaboration with the Animal Production Systems group at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, as part of a Double Degree PhD programme.

This résumé was prepared by the PhD student.

Time: Thursday 11 May 2017 at 13.00
Place: Building 3210, room, 04.061 Navitas, Inge Lehmanns Gade 10, Department of Engineering, Aarhus University
Title of dissertation: Sustainable development of agriculture: contribution of farm-level assessment tools
Contact information: Evelien de Olde, e-mail:, tel.: +31 648650003
Members of the assessment committee:
Associate professor Kimberly A. Nicholas, Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies, Lund University, Sweden
Associate professor Tove Christensen, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Professor Martin Greiner (chair), Department of Engineering, Aarhus University
Main supervisor:
Senior Scientist Claus A.G. Sørensen, Department of Engineering, Aarhus University
Senior Scientist Frank W. Oudshoorn, Department of Engineering, Aarhus University; Senior scientist, Organic Innovation, Danish Agriculture & Food Council, SEGES
External supervisors:
Professor Imke J.M. de Boer, Animal Production Systems Group, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands
Associate professor Eddie A.M. Bokkers, Animal Production Systems Group, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands
The PhD dissertation will be defended in English

The defence is public.
The dissertation is available for reading at the Graduate School of Science and Technology/GSST, Ny Munkegade 120, building 1520, rooms 128-134, 8000 Aarhus C.

PhD defence
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Revised 23.02.2018