Journal Article

A systematic review of the methodology of trade-off analysis in agriculture

Abstract Trade-off analysis (TOA) is central to policy and decision-making aimed at promoting sustainable agricultural landscapes. Yet, a generic methodological framework to assess trade-offs in agriculture is absent, largely due to the wide range of research disciplines and objectives for which TOA is used. In this study, we systematically reviewed 119 studies that have implemented TOAs in landscapes and regions dominated by agricultural systems around the world. Our results highlight that TOAs tend to be unbalanced, with a strong emphasis on productivity rather than environmental and socio-cultural services. TOAs have mostly been performed at farm or regional scales, rarely considering multiple spatial scales simultaneously. Mostly, TOAs fail to include stakeholders at study development stage, disregard recommendation uncertainty due to outcome variability and overlook risks associated with the TOA outcomes. Increased attention to these aspects is critical for TOAs to guide agricultural landscapes towards sustainability.