Table 2. Main features of MESMIS case studies. Source: The authors based on the information from a sample of 25 case studies conducted in Latin America, Spain, Portugal, and USA

Key aspects Description and number of cases
(n = 25)
Examples of the most representative of each category
NRM systems analyzed Mixed (agroforestry, crops-livestock, crops-livestock-forestry) – 10 Modernized crop-livestock-forest system based on soil and water conservation measures and diversification (local species and cultivars; Gomes de Almeida and Biaconi 2007)
Cash crops – 8 Traditional Chinampas for the production of vegetables (Merlin 2009)
Basic crops – 1 Small-scale, multiple cropping systems (Moya et al. 2007)
Livestock - 4 Conventional vs. organic sheep production (Salcedo and García- Trujillo 2005)
Forestry – 1 Extraction vs. community managed forestry (Negreros-Castillo et al. 2000)
Aquaculture – 1 Wetlands in monoculture vs. multiculture (Moctezuma-Malagón et al. 2008)
Type of assessment (longitudinal/cross-sectional) Simultaneous, contrasting systems (i.e., reference vs. alternative) – 19
Longitudinal (same system before and after management changes) – 6
Conventional vs. alternative small-scale maize-dairy systems (Brunett-Pérez et al. 2005)
Dairy sheep farm evaluated three times over 10 years of technological change (North and Hewes 2006)
Leading institutional evaluator Academic – 11 Dehesa (Mediterranean agroforestry system, Gaspar et al. 2009)
NGO – 8 Small-scale lemon production (Orozco and Astier 2007)
Government/extension centre – 3 Conventional vs. organic cotton (Gomero and Velásquez 2007)
Farm/Farmers group – 3 Indigenous Coffee Cooperative Unión de Ejidos Majomut, Chiapas (Pérez-Grovas 2000)
Spatial/organizative scale where the evaluation is centered Plot/ single farm – 2 Conventional vs. diversified crop-livestock-forestry system in an experimental farm (Gutiérrez-Cedillo et al. 2012)
Community – 18 Tequila production, 27 farms in one community (Bowen and Zapata 2009)
Regional/farmers association – 5 Organic coffee growers association, 118 farms in one region (Cárdenas-Grajales et al. 2006)
Time length of the alternative system Short term (< 3 yrs) – 10 Vineyards in organic transition (Pino-Torres 2007)
Medium term (3-5 yrs) – 3 Conventional vs. organic coffee and agroforestry (Pérez-Grovas 2000)
Long term (> 5 yrs) – 10 Conventional vs. alternative irrigation system over 20 years (Ocampo-Fletes 2004)
N/A – 1 No alternative system evaluated (Bowen and Zapata 2007)
Degree of participation from farmers Low – 17 Farmers not involved in most steps of the evaluation process (Abbona et al. 2007)
Medium – 1 Farmers involved in definition of general sustainability criteria (Pino-Torres 2007)
High – 7 Farmers involved in design, measurement, and integration of sustainability indicators (Alemán et al. 2007)
Indicators connected to sustainability attributes as defined by MESMIS Yes – 19

No – 6

Use of all seven sustainability attributes defined by MESMIS (Aguirre and Chiappe 2009)
Indicators derived from technological, economic, and social criteria (Salcedo and García-Trujillo 2005)
Integration of results using multicriteria representation techniques AMOEBA/qualitative integration – 24 Use of AMOEBA graphs to present results (Duarte-Silveira 2005)
Modeling – 1 Linear programming used to define “ideal” system (Costa and Poeta 2008)
Multiple evaluation cycles No – 22
Yes – 3
Agrosilvopastoral alternative systems based on multicropping evaluated after four years (Astier et al. 2007)
Main results Alternative system more sustainable – 15

Mixed results – 3

Reference system more sustainable – 3

N/A – 4

Improved yields and income, more stable production, increased participation (Alemán et al. 2007)
Traditional system had higher cost-benefit ratio, similar income and lower agrochemical use (Merlín 2009)
Increased labor efficiency, but reduced productivity (North and Hewes 2006)
No alternative system (Orozco and Astier 2007)