عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction: In recent decades too much use of production inputs to increase yield has caused a lot of environmental damages; therefore more attention has been placed to studying the sustainability and continuality of production system along with preserving the renewable natural resources. Thus, sustainable agriculture has been considered as the most effective solution for this matter by experts. This study aims to assess natural resource and agricultural sustainability in counties of East Azerbaijan Province.
Materials and Methods: In this article, agricultural and natural resource sustainability of East Azerbaijan Province counties was assessed by using composite indicators. We consider economic, social and environmental indicators as the decision-making dimensions and each of them include some sub-criteria. The indicators weight were determined by direct survey from agricultural and natural resources experts. The methodology used in this study for assessing sustainability is compromise programming that is one of the goal-programming approaches. The compromise programming is capable of handling a large amount of information. This method is a well-known MCDM approach. The basic idea in Compromise programming is the identification of an ideal solution as a point where each criterion under consideration achieves their optimum value. Since there is a trade-off among criteria, the ideal point is typically not feasible and it is used as a reference point; alternatives are ranked based on how far they are from this. The data have been collected from a variety of sources, including the Agriculture and East Azerbaijan Regional Water Authority and Statistical Yearbook of East Azerbaijan Province in 2015.
Results and Discussion: The results showed that in economic dimension, economic efficiency of irrigation, irrigated wheat yield, conservation tillage and insurance percentage indicators with coefficients of 0.188, 0.154, 0.127 and 0.122 respectively are known as the most important parameters. In social dimension literacy rate, number of agricultural expert, health indicator and agricultural employment indicator with coefficients of 0.137, 0.138, 0.120 and 0.125 respectively are known as the most important parameters. Also, in environmental dimension, the most important parameters are groundwater level, agricultural water usage indicator, water salinity, efficient irrigation systems indicator and nitrate concentration in groundwater coefficients are 0.144, 0.116, 0.093, 0.093 and 0.087, respectively. Classification results showed that in economic dimension, Ajabshir, Heris and Malekan counties are sorted as very sustainable. These counties have good condition of economic efficiency of irrigation, irrigated wheat yield and conservation tillage indicators that are the most important indicators of this dimension. In social dimension, Jolfa, Osku and Ajabshir counties are classified as very sustainable. Number of agricultural expert is the most important indicator in this dimension and Jolfa has the first place in this regard. In terms of literacy rate, the second important indicator in social dimension, all three counties are in a good shape. Osku, in terms of health and immigration indicators and Jolfa in terms of communication indicator have the first place. The low number of agricultural expert, a small number of extension activities, low per capita space and lower immigration are the characteristics of the very sustainable category which includes Malekan, Maragheh, Bostan Abad and Khoda afrin. In environmental dimension, the counties that show a good condition about groundwater level, water salinity, vegetation cover, percentage of soil organic matter and Indicator of chemical Fertilizer use, are sorted as the every sustainable category. This group includes Kaleybar, Varzeghan and Khoda Afarin counties. While less using of efficient irrigation systems, much consumption of agricultural water, higher nitrate concentrations, much use of chemical fertilizers, lack of soil organic matter, lower vegetation cover and the higher number of livestock units in per hectare ranch are common features of the very unstable category. Finally, the results of total sustainability classification show that Kaleybar, Ajabshir and Varzeghan counties are in the very sustainable category, this was far from what we expected because Kaleybar and Varzeghan counties in terms of environmental sustainability and Ajabshir County in terms of social sustainability were classified in the very sustainable category. Maragheh County in all three dimensions is the farthest from the ideal point and classified under the unstable or very unstable group and as a result, in overall, is very unstable.
Conclusions: In this study agricultural and natural resource sustainability of East Azerbaijan Province counties was assessed and the relative importance of the indicators was determined. The results showed that irrigation efficiency must be improved to increase the economic sustainability of agriculture and natural resources in the counties of East Azerbaijan. It is recommended to increase the distribution of improved seeds to increase crop yield. Also, results showed that due to the drought crisis in the region, water resources sustainability is the main concern of agriculture and natural resources sustainability in East Azerbaijan province. Furthermore, more equitable distribution of facilities and infrastructure such as agro-processing industries, rural schools, health centers and recreational facilities can lead to socio-economic development in disadvantaged counties of province