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MASC model

Evaluation Principles with the MASC Method
Assessment of the contribution of cropping systems to sustainable development.

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.

Description of the method

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.


Arborescence MASC 2.0


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 MASC program was built by a group of researchers and instructors from four INRAE units (“Agronomie” and “Eco-Innov” in Grignon, AGIR in Toulouse and LAE in Nancy-Colmar) and from institutions of higher learning ((AgroParisTech, INPL, INPT).

It is distributed under a CeCILL-C licence.

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