MASC Model

Evaluation of the contribution to sustainable development of cropping systems

The MASC tool (Multi-attribute Assessment of the Sustainability of Cropping Systems) was designed to assess the contribution of cropping systems to sustainable development. It is based on an evaluation of the three dimensions usually distinguished in sustainability (economic, social, and environmental) through 39 criteria selected to reflect the performance of field crop systems in Western Europe.

Description of the method

To evaluate a cropping system, it is necessary to fill in each of the basic criteria that characterize it in a qualitative manner, using a judgment scale of 3 to 5 classes. MASC then performs a progressive aggregation of the criteria, according to a "tree" which, starting from the 39 basic criteria, allows to go up progressively to have a global evaluation of the contribution of the cropping systems to sustainable development. The aggregation of the criteria is done using "if-then" decision rules.


Compared to existing assessment tools at the cropping system level, MASC has several advantages. This tool helps its users to judge the degree of satisfaction of the sustainability objectives assigned to the cropping systems, in the different economic, social and agro-environmental domains considered. It gives a "technical" content to sustainable development thanks to evaluation criteria based on a detailed description of agricultural practices (planned or already implemented). Then, by allowing a certain flexibility in the apprehension of sustainable development by its user (to take into account in particular the weight of local issues), it obliges the latter to specify his vision of sustainability.
From a practical point of view, MASC is easy to use and educational, since the whole operation is transparent for the user. These characteristics make it a suitable tool for researchers, but also for professionals wishing to evaluate in a multidimensional way the ways to transform their practices.
The MASC software was built by a group of researchers and teachers from four units involving INRAE and higher education institutions (AgroParisTech, INPL, INPT): Agronomy and Eco-Innov units in Grignon, UMR AGIR in Toulouse and LAE in Nancy-Colmar.
It is distributed under a CECill-C license.

See also

Modification date : 09 May 2023 | Publication date : 27 May 2021 | Redactor : MEANS