Over the past century farming activity has intensified worldwide, characterized by an increasing dependence on external inputs and on land conversion. Although the intensification of agriculture has increased productivity, the sustainability of agroecosystems has also been compromised. The objective of this study is to build multivariate relationships between farm structural characteristics and farm performance to highlight the relative costs and benefits of four main farming systems in Central Italy: organic, conventional, mixed and non-mixed farms. Results show that the relationship between cropping diversity and agroecological sustainability is associated to a mixed versus non-mixed farm management dichotomy, not to organic or conventional farming practices. The presence of livestock appears to have played an important role as an economic lever for diversifying the farm cropping system.
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