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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Présentation of MASC

Frédérique Angevin, Jacques-Eric Bergez, Christian Bockstaller, Bruno Colomb, Damien Craheix, Thierry Doré, Laurence Guichard, Antoine Messéan, Raymond Reau, Walid Sadok

Multi-attribute assessment of the Sustainability of Cropping systems.

The MASC (Multi-attribute Assessment of the Sustainability of Cropping systems) tool was designed to assess the contribution of cropping systems to sustainable development. It is based on assessment of the three dimensions usually distinguished in sustainability (economic, social and environmental) via 39 criteria selected to consider performances of field-crop systems in Western Europe. To assess a cropping system, it is necessary to enter qualitative data for each of the basic criteria that describe it, using a value scale with 3-5 classes. MASC then progressively aggregates the criteria according to a “tree” that, beginning with the 39 basic criteria, progressively allows users to climb to calculate an overall assessment of the contribution of the cropping system to sustainable development. Criteria are aggregated using “IF-THEN” decision rules.

Compared to existing assessment tools at the scale of a cropping system, MASC has some interesting features. It helps users judge the degree to which sustainability objectives of cropping systems have been met in the economic, social and agro-environmental domains considered. It provides “technical” content to sustainable development due to its assessment criteria being described by detailed descriptions of agricultural practices (planned or already performed). Next, by allowing a certain flexibility in the user’s perception of sustainable development (to consider the influence of local issues, in particular), it requires users to specify their vision of sustainability. From a practical viewpoint, MASC is simple to use and educational since all of its functions are visible to users. These characteristics make it a useful tool for researchers but also for professionals who want assess pathways for changing their practices in a multidimensional manner.

The first version of MASC, developed in the DISCOTECH1 project of the ANR2, was distributed in a limited manner from 2008-2010, during which it was tested by a wide range of user groups belonging to the worlds of research and agricultural development. Following this real-world testing and thanks to support from the GIS GC HP2E3, a second version of the model was developed. This version was developed by combining feedback from the first users, results of tools for sensitivity analysis recently developed for this type of model, and advice from several experts about how to improve how criteria were assessed.

Since MASC does not perform normative assessment of criteria, the indicators used to describe these criteria can be chosen by users as a function of their accuracy, the context of the study and the data available. Currently, several programs are available to calculate certain indicators at the scale of a cropping system from agricultural practices and the context (partial list):

  • CRITER®: Quantitative assessment of a set of economic, social and environmental criteria intended to qualify the contribution of cropping systems to sustainable development. CRITER® was developed specifically to calculate all of the quantitative indicators of MASC, something that the programs below do not do.

Other programs can be used to parametrise some of the criteria of MASC 2.0:

  • ARTHUR: Assessment of potential risks of transferring active ingredients of pestices to the environment
  • EGES®: Assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and energy efficiency
  • INDIGO®: Assessment of environmental impacts of cropping systems (water, soil, air, non-renewable resources, etc.)
  • MERLIN: Assessment of the risk of nitrate leaching
  • SYSTERRE®: Assessment of technical, economic and environmental performances of plant production on a field-crop farm or mixed crop-livestock farm (multiple scales: field, soil, cropping system, farm).

The domains of applications and availability of these programs are detailed on the website of the Erytage Mixed Technical Network.

The MASC program was built by a group of researchers and instructors from four INRA units (“Agronomie” and “Eco-Innov” in Grignon, AGIR in Toulouse and LAE in Nancy-Colmar) and from institutions of higher learning ((AgroParisTech, INPL, INPT). Its version 1.0 was the subject of a filing with the APP (French Agency for the Protection of Programs) in January 2008 (property of INRA/AgroParisTech), renewed in October 2011 for its current version 2.0 (IDDN no. FR.001.040014.001.R.P.2008.000.30100, attributed 5 Oct 2011), a version that is property of the members of the GIS GC-HP2E.

Version 2.0 is used under a licence CeCILL-C, and downloading the software is considered as acceptance of the licence. MASC cannot be used for commercial purposes without having previously contacted and obtained consent of the owners of the DEXi4 program. The CeCILL-C licence allows you to use MASC 2.0 without limit under your own responsibility; the designers and owners of MASC 2.0 cannot be held responsible for the results obtained. Any reuse of MASC 2.0 in other software programs must follow the conditions described in the CeCILL-C licence.

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1DISCOTECH : DISpositifs innovants pour la COnception et l'évaluation des systèmes TECHniques
2ANR : French National Research Agency
3GIS GC HP2E : Scientific Interest Group for “Grande Culture à Hautes Performances Économiques et Environnementales” (Field Crops with High Economic and Environmental Performances)
4marko.bohanec (at) ijs.si